Being both a Mac and PDA fanatic, I found this bit of news very disturbing. Apparently, PalmSource is rewriting the Palm OS from scratch once again, and this time, there will be no support for synching with Macs. The project is codenamed Cobalt, and in order to provide better integration with Outlook, the OS is architected in such a way that it will not be compatible with Macs.
I find this an interesting decision since Palm basically has a monopoly on the Mac platform. The only reason I use Palm is because I use a Mac, and I don’t have any other choice. If I used Windows, I would happily use a Pocket PC device and enjoy such revolutionary concepts as multi-tasking. And, of course, I would have Flash Player 6. I guess the reality is that a monopoly on something as small as the Mac market is not a terribly impressive monopoly, so in the game of numbers, Mac users are about to lose out.
The big problem is not that Mac users are losing Palm support, but that we are left with no alternatives except an iPod and maybe a Bluetooth mobile phone. Although the Palm platform is less sophisticated than Pocket PC, it sure beats trying to take notes on your phone and looking up appointments on your iPod. And Sony Clies are so cool that it’s very easy to forgive and even forget the shortcomings of the Palm OS.
Yes, I know there are third-party solutions for Synching Pocket PC devices with OS X, and that there will be third-party solutions for synching Palm OS 6 with OS X, but considering the fact that Apple’s iSync is still far from usable, I’m not sure I’m willing to gamble on the solutions over at markspace.com (if you have experience with MissingSync, please let me know what you think!), although it’s looking like I may not be left with much of a choice.
Palm’s announcement makes me think that maybe they know something we don’t. Maybe Apple is preparing to launch their own PDA. I’m not one to perpetuate rumors, but let’s look at the facts. The iPod gets more like a PDA with every update. It has fantastic battery life, more capacity than any PDA ever built, now comes with a cradle, and has already established an impressive market. And Apple has been diligently working on iSync, Address Book, iCal and even Stickies. Suppose Palm knows what Apple is up to. Why would they compete? Mac users prefer Apple brands, so if I could buy a good Apple PDA, why even consider a Palm? (If you have Safari, why use IE? If you can get an iSight, why use a Logitec?)
My guess is that within a year, Apple will announce a PDA, which Palm knows, so they have decided to focus on the Pocket PC and Microsoft markets with their new OS. If I’m wrong, I guess I’ll either switch to Windows, take my chances synching a Pocket PC device with OS X, or go back to jotting down notes on the palm of my hand.