January 6, 2004 7:50 AM PST
PalmSource licensees get new OS
The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company first said in late September that it would make version 6.0 of the OS, code-named Sahara, available to partners on Dec. 29. PalmSource representatives said licensees of the company's existing software, including device makers Kyocera, Samsung and Sony Electronics, received the product last week.
Version 6 of the OS will be available to developers on Feb. 10, the company said. The new operating system will continue to be marketed alongside the current OS 5, with OS 6 aimed at higher-end devices.
The Palm OS remains the leader in the market for handheld computers, despite increasing competition from Microsoft's Pocket PC and products from smart-phone makers.
A study released by Jupiter Research on Tuesday maintains that while the U.S. installed base of personal digital assistants remains relatively small at 14 million, adoption of the devices is increasing based on greater levels of functionality.
Jupiter highlighted handhelds that offer voice, personal information management, or a combination of the two, as a potential sweet spot for market growth.
PalmSource intends for its new OS to be more adept than previous versions at multitasking or running applications in the background. The company says its OS 6.0 should also be more flexible in allowing landscape and portrait views, and it has indicated that the software could create opportunities for new device applications through improved security for wireless data transfers.
The company has previously said it hopes the new OS will lead to further use of wireless devices in the corporate world.
PalmSource has been active in signing up new licensees of late, including the addition of two Chinese manufacturers in early December--Lenovo, formerly known as Legend, and Founder Technology Group.
PalmSource said it will update version 5.0 of its OS to better address the needs of cell phone makers. The update is still in the works and details are scarce, but it will be available this year, according to the company.
In October 2003, PalmSource was spun off from Palm, and Palm was renamed PalmOne.
CNET News.com's Matt Hines contributed to this report.