Palm Ditches Windows Mobile

Palm announced it will stop developing new handsets running Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system, in order to concentrate on its own WebOS. But the company is still reporting losses and low sales on its flagship device, the Palm Pre.

Palm Pre, Palm Pixi
Palm Pre (left) and Palm Pixi (right), the only two smartphones running on Palm's WebOS mobile operating system.

Windows Mobile first appeared on Palm devices in 2005, when Palm adopted Microsoft's mobile platform in a bid to reach more business-minded users. Now, Palm says it will instead concentrate on its own operating system, WebOS (found on the Palm Pre and the upcoming Pixi model) -- which is widely seen as superior to Windows Mobile at the moment.

While WebOS may be better regarded than Windows Mobile, Palm revealed on Thursday during a conference call that it is not doing so well selling its flagship Pre smartphone. Together with Sprint, the exclusive carrier of the Palm Pre, Palm managed to sell only 823,000 devices this quarter, out of which the vast majority were Pre models (around 810,000).

Although the Pre has received a warm welcome from users and media, the sales figures are still a far cry in comparison to Apple's iPhone 3GS, which sold 1 million units within five days of release and 5.2 million in the quarter.

But using WebOS exclusively for its devices could turn Palm's fortunes around. The company will introduce later this year the Palm Pixi, a cheaper alternative to the Palm Pre, with a full QWERTY keyboard and a smaller touchscreen, aimed at the mass market.

Palm's App Catalog is also getting more apps slowly but steadily, which could aid to the popularity of the platform. However, there is still quite some way to catch up with Apple's App Store, which now has more than 75,000 applications.

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