Palm Places Hopes on Nova

It’s no secret that Palm has been struggling for a few years now. Despite the hard times, when Jon Rubinstein came on board as Palm's executive chairman in charge of product development in 2007, he felt that Palm could still manage a comeback. During his storied nine-year stint at Apple, Rubinstein led the development of products such as the iMac and the iPod, so it seemed that Palm had placed the right person in the right position.

When Rubinstein came on board, Palm was already working on a new OS that would be a foundation for a wide range of mobile tools. In less than a month, we’ll see the debut of this new OS and all of Rubinstein's efforts at CES. We should also see the first of a family of products associated with the platform.

Code-named Nova, this new OS is supposed to be released by mid-2009. This platform is supposed to be flexible enough to support a wide range of devices, which could open the door for additional markets.

While Palm has kept the majority of its plans under tight wraps, Rubinstein and others say the goal is to create products that will bridge the gap between Research In Motion's BlackBerry devices, which are oriented to work and email, and Apple's iPhone, which is more focused on fun. According to CEO Ed Colligan, “People's work and personal lives are melding," and Palm is aiming for the "fat middle of the market."

Nova will have a few obstacles to overcome: some carriers and businesses are hesitant to take on another platform that they must support, and some software developers are already focusing their efforts around other devices and platforms to the point that they might be unwilling to take on another OS.  Still, Palm insiders are optimistic: Mike Bell, a 16-year Apple engineering star who joined Palm last year, said, “I'm fundamentally convinced we're onto something huge. Some of the stuff we're working on here is mind-blowing—better than anything I've seen before.” Given Palm’s struggles, we hope Bell is right, or else we will be covering some bleak news regarding the struggling company.

To Palm, we say: We’re anxiously waiting and watching, and hope Nova is all we can dream of.