Operating Systems

The True Costs (and Future) of webOS

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The real news in the HP Q4 2011 results is not whether the company made an overall profit (even if it did). It is how much HP spent on the Palm and webOS businesses-- a sum totalling well over $2 billion.

HP WebOSFirst off, one has to recall HP spent $1.2BN to buy Palm in the first place back in 2010, before releasing a couple of webOS-powered smartphones and the stillborn TouchPad tablet. Two other numbers emerge from the Q4 2011 results-- $885 million in "impairment of goodwill and purchased intangible assets" tied to webOS and Palm, and $775M relating on the decision to "wind-down the webOS device business."

The result? $1.66 billion, spent on killing off Palm and webOS.

What next for webOS? HP is still looking for a buyer, and Venturebeat says Intel and Qualcomm are still in talks over purchasing the Palm portfolio (at least according to the unnamed sources). However HP demands a caveat-- the license to use webOS in printers. And such a licensing deal is what keeps dragging Palm purchase negotiations on and on.

Maybe HP knows a fabulous secret on the synergy between webOS and printers? Or it has a finished webOS-powered printer awaiting release? We can't imagine "webOS-enabled" ever becoming a unique selling point for printers, but hopefully all will be clear(er) over the next few weeks-- or whenever HP decides the final fate for the Palm experiment.

Go HP Q4 2011 Results

Go As Palm Bidding Continues, HP Wants a Sweet Deal to Keep webOS in Printers (VentureBeat)

RIM Holds Back on Playbook OS Update

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RIM delays the release of the second BlackBerry Playbook OS version to February as it does like the tortoise-- working slowly yet (hopefully?) steadily. 

PlaybooksThe news comes from a blog post from Playbook senior VP David Smith, who says the OS update will include "advanced integrated e-mail, calendar and contact apps, a new video store, as well as new functionality that will allow your BlackBerry smartphone and BlackBerry PlayBook to work together even better," the blog post says. 

One promised feature sees the chopping block though-- the Playbook BBM app, meaning Playbook users will have to continue using BlackBerry Bridge to use the Blackberry messenger service on a Blackberry tablet. 

A Playbook OS 2.0 beta is already available for developers taking part in RIM's Early Adpoter Program. Meanwhile, Playbook users will keep on waiting for the fabled email client promised within 60 days of launch... back in April. 

Go An Update on BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0

Google Unwraps Ice Cream Sandwich with Samsung

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Google officially unveils Android 4.0 (aka Ice Cream Sandwich) at a Hong Kong Samsung event, where Samsung announces the first smartphone running on the OS-- the Galaxy Nexus.

Galaxy NexusIce Cream Sandwich offers a gelataria of improvements on previous Android iterations-- unifying the Google platform as it merges the smartphone (Android 2.3, aka Gingerbread) and tablet (Android 3.0 aka Honeycomb) versions of the OS.

The UI gets a complete makeover, thanks to tweaks ranging from a new font ("Roboto") adorning the menus, refined animations and the elimination of physical navigation buttons via virtual buttons in the system bar.

Security gets something of an improvement-- facial recognition. Google calls the feature "Face Unlock," and... it failed to work as planned during the on-stage demo.

The OS also supports Near Field Communications (NFC) with "Android Beam," allowing content sharing between NFC-enabled handsets through tapping devices together.

As is typical (so far, at least) with new Android iterations, Samsung unveils a flagship handset-- the Galaxy Nexus, carrying a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and a 4.65", 1280x720 super AMOLED Samsung touchscreen.

The Android 4.0 SDK is already available for developers, while customers will get to taste the OS once the Galaxy Nexus launches in Europe this November.

Go Android 4.0 for Users

Go Unwrapping Ice Cream Sandwich on the Galaxy Nexus

Nokia's New OS Brings Wind of Change

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Nokia plans a new operating system ("Meltemi") for cheap feature phones aimed at growing emerging markets.

NokiaThe name for this Linux-based system comes from the Greek word for the strong, dry north winds of the Aegean Sea, which blow from about mid-May to mid-September. During hot summer days, these winds are considered a blessing. Similar winds blow in the Adriatic and Ionian regions.

Obviously Nokia feels a cheaper OS will give emerging markets a blessing (and maybe even curse more expensive solutions from competitors.)

Wall Street Journal says heading the project is Nokia executive VP for mobile phones, Mary McDowell.

It pays for Nokia to focus on the feature phone market-- this segment accounts around 47% of Nokia Q2 2011 sales. Their customers in emerging markets now started to expect some smartphone functionality even from cheaper, lower-end devices.

News site Boy Genius Report thinks Meltemi will replace the Nokia Series 40 platform, as its more capable while running on equally low-cost hardware.

Nokia will apparently still offer low-cost Windows Phone devices (running "Tango," the stripped down version of Windows Phone 7). Now Meltemi will allow Nokia to sell phones at even lower, rock-bottom prices.

Replying to the BGR report, Nokia simply says "...our Mobile Phones team has a number of exciting projects in the works."

Go Nokia Aims Software at Low-End Phones (WSJ)

Go Nokia to Turn Mobile Landscape on its Head with "Meltemi" (BGR)

MeeGo is Dead, Long Live Tizen?

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As MeeGo (the Nokia-Intel Linux-based mobile device OS project) fades away following Nokia's move to Windows Phone, the Linux Foundation announces a new open source project-- Tizen, a standards-based cross-architecture software platform for multiple devices.

TizenWith an initial release aiming for Q1 2012, Tizen should support smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, netbooks and in-vehicle infotainment systems. The Linux Foundation hopes the first Tizen-powered devices should be available by H2 2012.

The platform will support HTML5 for device-independent app development as well as the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC) standards.

Leading development are Intel and Samsung, together with the LiMo Foundation-- a consortium consisting of ACCESS, Panasonic Mobile, NEC Casio, NTT DoCoMo, Samsung, SK Telecom, Telefonica and Vodafone.

As budding mobile device platforms (webOS, anyone?) struggle against the rival iOS and Android  behemoths, how will Tizen fare on the battlefield? So far Samsung confirms its support, telling Reuters "we've been a core Linux partner ... and this is in line with our strategy of supporting many platforms."

Meanwhile analysts suggest big operators might "get worried by Android's increasing smartphone dominance" and switch platforms in order to restrict Google's influence on the mobile market. Either way, we should know how Tizen will fare by around this time next year.

Go LiMo Foundation and Linux Foundation Announce New Open Source Software Platform, Tizen

Go Intel, Samsung to Get Behind New Linux Phone software