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PalmSource Clarifies Linux Road Map

Company says the Linux version of its platform will be available for so-called feature phones next summer, with a smart-phone version to follow.
Device platform vendor PalmSource this week clarified its Linux roadmap and said that it has signed an unnamed but major handset vendor to a license.

In a Wednesday evening teleconference announcing quarterly results, interim CEO Patrick McVeigh announced the company has signed a "tier one" handset vendor and expected to release specific details, including the vendor's name, soon. The arrangement gives the handset vendor a worldwide license to use the Palm platform.

In addition, McVeigh emphasized that the company is moving quickly to transition the Palm platform to Linux. He stressed that, besides the move to Linux, the company was now focused on what he called "the broader mobile phone market," which includes smartphones and so-called feature phones. Feature phones have some PDA features, but aren't as powerful overall as smartphones.

McVeigh told reporters and analysts that he expected the Linux version of the feature phone platform to be available to handset vendors by next summer and the smartphone version of the platform to be available "in the latter half of fiscal 2006. The company is being re-organized to accommodate those plans and that all non-related projects are being dropped or delayed.

McVeigh noted that wireless operators and handset vendors have been very enthusiastic about the company's plans.

"3G devices can be expensive to develop, so handset vendors are looking for a total Linux offerings," McVeigh said. He added that carriers are also interested because they can more easily customize Linux devices to meet their specific needs.

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