Technology

Palm Software on the iPhone?


A frustrated Treo owner wants to know whether Apple's smartphone will be able to run third-party applications

Reader Fr?d?ric Fines writes: My new Palm Treo 680 doesn't work as well as the Treo 600, which I still use as a spare phone. The 680 resets at least three or four times a day, particularly when I switch from phone mode to e-mail or from Web mode to anything else. The 600 is free from this very angering defect. What should I do? Hard reset? Will it cure the problem? Have you received similar complaints? My next smartphone will certainly not be a Palm, although it fits nicely with my Apple MacBook and PowerBook, with which the likes of Nokia (NOK) or Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) are mainly incompatible.

Before I risk wasting money again, I would like to know whether the iPhone will accept such software as Documents to Go and, more generally, all the Palm software that I have downloaded. What would be, as far as you know, the major drawbacks of this new smartphone?

An occasional spontaneous reset is not unusual with Palm (PALM) products, but three or four times a day is way too often. You should contact Palm or the carrier from which you bought the phone. You should also make sure you have downloaded all the software updates for the 680. The original version had a software bug that had a serious impact on battery life.

As for the iPhone, which is now scheduled for launch in late June, Apple (AAPL) has not been at all forthcoming with details. But the company has said that users will only be allowed to load software onto the phone through a process controlled by Apple, unlike Palm, Windows (MSFT) Mobile, or Symbian products, which allows users to install any compatible software. This makes Apple's claims about the phone running a version of OS X essentially meaningless to consumers.

At this point, Apple has not made a software developer's kit available to third parties and has told me that it does not plan to, except on a highly selective basis. If Apple sticks by these intentions, you are not going to see the sort of third-party software economy around the iPhone that we have seen around Palm and Windows Mobile.

Wildstrom is Technology You columnist for BusinessWeek. You can contact him at techandyou@businessweek.com.

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