How Palm has lost (another) loyal customer

Palm seems to have sneaked out the Palm Desktop 6.2 and HotSync 7.0 which are compatible with Vista (32bit only).

It doesn’t appear that they addressed any of the deficiencies that existed in the one and only beta which was released many months ago (like still no support for Quick Install… removed support for category coloring in calendar,etc.) — In fact, they removed support for a few devices! Why even run a beta?

For me, this is the last straw.  Well, actually a combination of this, plus iTunes64.  Why?  (And how is that related?)

Well I’m glad you asked.  With Apple having released iPod Touch drivers for Vista x64, my Treo is now my *only* device that doesn’t have 100% support for Vista x64.  (Well okay, in the vein of being completely honest, my printer/scanner/copier doesn’t have 100% support, I can’t make the “Scan” button on the scanner launch my scanner app in x64 mode, it works in x86 mode.  This is actually a limitation of the scanner software though, the drivers themselves support the scanner button — If I manually launch the app, it works great.  Since I didn’t notice this omission for over three months, I can’t say I’m broken up over it)

I’ve been a loyal Palm user since the 90s, and have owned more devices I can count (IIIe, IIIxe, m505, Zire71, TE2, T|X, Treo 650, Treo 680 all come to mind, but I know I am missing a couple in the middle somewhere), and having been progressively more disappointed with each device, I have been near the edge of moving on for a while.

I enjoy PalmOS, but it’s just not powerful enough to keep up with today’s applications, especially combined with the unavoidable brokenness of NVFS.

So, with that in mind, I am ordering a new HTC 8925 (aka TyTN II, aka AT&T Tilt).  Windows Mobile 6, built-in GPS, slide-out keyboard, 2.8-inch touchscreen, Wifi, 3-megapixel camera, 3G HSDPA, support for 32GB SDHC cards, stereo bluetooth headphone support, all in a form-factor that rings in smaller then the Treo 680 (okay, okay, only by a couple millimeters, but still, that’s an impressive list of features that Palm doesn’t even dream about)

I look forward to a phone with reasonable voice quality — My Treo 680 is so bad that I actually put it on a data-only plan and carry a real cell phone for voice, and use the Treo only for data.

I look forward to being able to answer the phone without a crash — Something neither my Treo 650 nor 680 could do 100% of the time.

I look forward to being able to survive a full day of standby with my email client running the background without needing to recharge mid-day.

I look forward to being able to check my email in a hotel lobby via wifi, rather then paying my carrier per-KB roaming charges that reflect a level of greed that would make the Enron folks blush.

I look forward to having more then 15 categories.  Seriously Palm, Y2K was eight years ago, get with the times.

I look forward to one again having more then 1-bar of signal in my basement.  Even my 2004 Razr has enough signal to make and receive calls, and transmit data — I have reliable data on my LifeDrive using Bluetooth through my Razr, but the Treo 680 doesn’t even notice inbound calls most of the time, and don’t even get me started about checking an email.

As I compare the specs against what is more or less the top of the line for Palm’s GSM line (Treo 680), were I Palm, I’d be embarrassed by the 2005-like feature set.

I’ve stayed loyal to Palm thing long due to some bad WM experiences in the 2001-2002 era, my existing collection of applications, and the fact that I know and understand PalmOS’ internals well enough to be able to fix nearly any software issue I bump into.  Once upon a time I was on a constant hunt for new Palm apps, updates to my apps, new tips and tricks — I rarely went more then a week without finding something.  It’s been months since any application I use released anything other then a minor bug fix, and several of my can’t-live-without-them apps have been abandoned completely or simply killed by Palm (KeySuite, Mapopolis, Chatteremail, Blazer)

I am still apprehensive as despite having done a fair amount of reading, I am still effectively going by marketing rather then real life experience.  Palm’s latest devices look great on paper too, so we’ll see.  I am a little concerned about losing some functionality, from what I have heard there isn’t a single functional IMAP mail client on WM6, but there are a couple on the horizon, and this area is an area that I am personally and professionally invested.

So, fingers crossed… Ordering on eBay in a little over 12 hours (no local carrier carries the device I want, nor do I want to renew my contract)

UPDATE (2008/01/12): Palm’s official blog announcement post

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