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October 13, 2006

Product Naming: The (Palm)Source of All Confusion

PalmACCESS’s recent unveiling of a new corporate logo and the fact that the PalmSource company name will be changed to ACCESS means that things are even more confusing in the world of Palm.

PalmSource software powers more than 40 million mobile phones and PDAs, including “some” of those made by Palm. This will all change as ACCESS attempts to be the leading company name in the industry, with over 279 million “deployments” of its NetFront browser to date. PDA Street calls this announcement the end of an era.

It got me thinking about just how confusing the Palm brand name has become, not to mention its tenuous (and now finished) association with PalmSource, and Palm’s sometimes secret flirtation with other brand names, like Slingbox.

The new Palm Treo 750v, for instance, is really a cascade of product names, brand names and corporate names. To begin with, the Treo product name seems to supercede the Palm brand name, and at the same time the unit is a Windows Smartphone, although (in Europe) it uses Vodafone’s content control filter and also uses a Samsung processor. Future models will also use an OS from ACCESS, which has owned PalmSource for years. And Palm’s role in all this is what, exactly?

I managed to find an excellent post that “clarifies” what’s going on here. It links to an unbelievably complex timeline on the evolution of Palm from one of the coolest brand names in the handheld organizer industry to a sort of cyber-generation Platonic form.

Where did the rot set in? It’s hard to say, but it might have all begun when Palm sold off PalmSource, thus outsourcing its own software.

And this leads me to an interesting supposition: is Apple doing the same thing with Intel? I hope not.

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Posted by William Lozito at October 13, 2006 10:08 AM
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