Why I’m rooting for HTC to buy Palm

It seems like ages, but just one year ago I had very high hopes for the relaunch of Palm; the OS was based on Linux, the UI seemed great (multitasking done right from day 1) and their Mojo-framework would allow applications to be developed with nothing but html, css and javascript. But the Palm Pré and Pixi weren’t the big hit, Palm has been hemorrhaging cash for years and they are now actively looking to be bought.
Apperantly Lenevo, Huawai and ZTE have expressed interest, but I for one am especially rooting for HTC. They do great hardware (e.g. my old Qtek 9100, my current HTC Hero and Google’ Nexus One) and they have exprience with a multi-OS product line (Windows Mobile and Android). But most importantly; they have Sense UI!
Sense is the user interface that HTC puts on top of WinMo and Android, to provide users with good looking, easy to use home screens that feature widgets to display e.g. calender, mail, clock, weather, but also information from Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. WebOS could really help HTC broaden and deepen Sense; e.g. by porting the WebOS multitasking cards metaphor, Synergy (unified contact list, deeply integrating internal sources and social web) and the nifty notification system. And Mojo could (easily?) be ported to WinMo and Android as well, HTC could then open up Palm’s App Catalog for all HTC WebOS/Sense devices, allowing developers to create, publish and sell mobile applications for multiple operating systems!
Picture all of that and all of a sudden you’ll see a major player that has the hard- and software and the experience to challenge Apple at home and abroad and in court with great hardware and, thanks to WebOS, even greater software. Go HTC!


Developing a mobile blogclient with Breeze

breeze similator with mloggerI’m one of those crazy gadget-loving freaks that are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Palm Pré. One of the reasons I’m that exited about that device is the development-stack. Applications are written on the Mojo-framework: html+css+js plus a great API to interface with the OS and hardware. But the Pré isn’t available yet and there’s nothing more to do then drooling over the specs, the pics and the vids. Or is there?
Actually there are more companies betting on html+css+js-stack as mobile application development platform; the mobile version of Google Gears allows you to download web-applications to run locally (which is a slightly different approach, but with approximately the same result). And another giant, Nokia, has its Web Runtime for S60 5th edition devices, which seems to follow the W3C widget-specs to some extend (they can be tested as Opera widgets).
The issue with both environments however, is the lack of an API to interface with the phone. And that is not the case for my latest crush; Cascada Mobile‘s Breeze. Breeze provides you with a simulator (or Eclipse-plugin) and a simple javascript API to access o.a. storage, contacts, camera, gps and network off course. It compiles your applications into J2ME midlets, which can then be distributed via breezeapps.com and installed on a whole bunch of J2ME handsets (Nokia, Blackberry, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, …).
I’ve played around with Breeze, building a prototype of a blogging-client (ugly and wordpress-only for now, source here) and it really is great fun to develop applications that way. And it works too; the first draft of this post was written using it on my Nokia E61i. How I love the smell of my own dogfood in the evening!
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Tomorrow’s phone, now!

palm preAs every boy could tell you, it’s our toys that keep us kind of young. Because of that and as I work for a telco, I can’t but regularly buy a new phone.  Over the years I’ve had a.o. a Nokia 7110, a Sony-Ericsson T68i, a Qtek 9100 and I currently own a secondhand Nokia E61i. But time flies and my E61i is aging fast (maybe if I wouldn’t drop it that often …), so in a few months time I’m buying a new smartphone. Time to start shopping for pics, specs and reviews!
Smetty recently asked for advice on this topic as well, she was thinking about the Nokia E71 as a cheaper alternative to the iPhone 3G. But I won’t be buying Apple’s must-have gadget any time soon; although it has some superb features (OS, browser and that multi-touch interface), it lacks a real keyboard, has not tethering and doesn’t allow applications running in the background. And last but not least; the platform is far too closed to appeal to an open standards and open source minded wannabe-geek like me. All Windows Mobile-based devices are banned from my shortlist as well; I really don’t like the OS and its GUI, it feels too much like Windows 3.11 to me.
I’ll probably end up buying either the Nokia E71, a HTC Dream (the Google-phone) or the Palm Pré. So let’s do a pro&con-list, comparison-tables are always fun, no?

Nokia E71HTC DreamPalm Pré
  • Symbian is a proven OS
  • Lots of great software
  • Great battery life (1500mAh battery and only QVGA)
  • Builds on Nokia’s experience with the E61(i)
  • It’s a bit smaller then my E61i (which is … biggish)
  • Has tethering
  • Google Android is a Linux based OS
  • Google is an important player, lots of companies will be releasing Android-based phones in the coming months
  • HTC is one of the greatest cellphone manufacturers, they have loads of experience. My Qtek 9100 was a HTC-device as well.
  • Higher screen resolution (HVGA)
  • Symbian feels old and is not always that reliable on my E61i (why does it soft-reset when the browser crashes?)
  • Lower screen resolution (QVGA)
  • Less readable then the E61i (same resolution but smaller screen)?
  • No tethering!
  • Battery life not that great (1150mAh battery combined with and thirsty HVGA)
  • It’s early days for Android, not sure if it’s mature enough
  • Not available through normal channels in Belgium, except for some obscure webshop where it’s already sold out
  • How about battery life (rumours claim 1150-1350 mAh, combined with power-hungry HVGA)?
  • Not available yet, no release date announced (not for USA, and certainly not for Europe)

The conclusion: although it still is vaporware, there’s some extreme chemistry going on between me and that darned Palm Pré. It’s the most exciting device by far and if it is for sale in Belgium, it’ll be hard to resist. The HTC Dream doesn’t seem to do it for me, no chemistry on one hand and not the “safe choice” either, as that award is easily claimed by Nokia E71. So Palm Pré if available in June/July, Nokia E71 otherwise?

New powerful iPhone with Flash preinstalled in q4?

So Adobe is working with Apple and “hope[s] to have Flash installed on over a million shipped devices by the end of the year“?
If you consider that:

  1. The (ARM11-based) CPU in the current iPhone is said to lack the raw power to run CPU-intensive applications like Flash
  2. Adobe has teamed up with ARM to optimize Flash on their processors and especially on the new ARM Cortex (which has been confirmed to be the CPU in the Palm Pré, which seems a great iPhone-competitor)
  3. “shipped devices” seems to imply that Flash would come pre-installed
  4. Apple sells more than 1 million devices each month (based on the past 2 quarters)

So we can expect a new ARM Cortex-based iPhone in time for the EOY holiday sales?