PermaLink It's pretty much official: Palm OS is dead02/15/2006 10:30 AM

I think I'd been sensing it would happen ever since Sony left the PDA market, but still, to hear that Palm OS is being phased out by its new master, Access, makes me a little sad.
As reported on Wired, Access, the people previously best-known for the shitty-but-usable NetFront mobile browser (and ignoring support for same) has announced that they're retiring Palm OS and replacing it with a build of Linux which supposedly will run all the existing Palm apps.  While this isn't what I really want (what I want is for Linux to run on my existing Sony Clie UX50, pictured here), at least it doesn't abandon the pitch to Microsoft.  I have steadfastly refused to use a Windows-based handheld all these years, and with the intense effort I've placed into de-Redmonding my life, I don't want those jerks creeping into my pocket.

When Sony discontinued it in 2003, I commented to several people that the UX50 will one day be remembered as the finest Palm-based handheld that will have ever been built.  Looks like it'll have that position by default.  Sort of sucks that it peaked right there and there'll never be more Palm handhelds.  My UX50 has been magnificent these last few years: strong, capacious, stable, connectable as all hell, and I've been carrying it long enough that people now come up to me and ask, "is that the new Blackberry?"

Uh, no, it's actually a fairly old Sony, thank you.

It was predictable of Sony to discontinue it.  They have a long history of producing some truly staggeringly amazing hardware and then walking away from it.  I have a houseful of their stuff, from the fabulous PSX-X55S straight-arm turntable I own (I actually love it so much, I bought four of them on eBay dirt cheap a few years ago so that I would never have to live a day of my life without an excellent turntable), to the CDV-5000 Hi8 video camera that produced spectacularly good images and sound for many years, albeit while putting a crease in my shoulder from its hefty weight, to innumerable VCRs, Walkmen, and handhelds.  They design it, build it, it's great, they discontinue it, and two years later you can't even find anyone in Sony who remembers the product ever existing.

Still, PalmOS had a long and interesting life.  I've still got my IBM WorkPad, the ones they had at Lotusphere 1998 for the "special" price of only about $325.  If I put batteries in it, it would work, but damn if I could think of a use for a totally nonconnectable serial-based handheld any more (that WorkPad didn't even have infrared, remember).  Maybe I could bring it out to scare young people.
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