Sunday, March 21, 2010

PALM Suffers In Smartphone Market

Palm's decision to jettison Microsoft's handheld OS has, unfortunately, not saved it. Palm's poor sales volume means that its current channel inventory is thought to amount to nearly 200 days of sales, suggesting that the next few quarters won't see many resellers demanding additional stock from Palm. One analyst has given Palm a price target of $0.

Palm's decision to launch a standards-based WebOS founded on open-source components like the Linux kernel and the WebKit rendering engine seems curious in retrospect, but when that decision was made there was no shipping Android platform and Palm needed a solution that didn't leave it paying its profits in royalties. Still, has anyone actually used WebOS? Care to report on the experience?

Meanwhile, Apple's march toward handheld dominance seems on course: 40% of Blackberry users are willing to trade for an iPhone.

With respect to the Android/iPhone competition (well, with respect to the Chrome/Safari competition), has anyone seen javascript rendering benchmarks more recent than this? Under non-ideal (i.e., while I was writing this, with browsers that hadn't just been launched, and a computer that was also doing things like checking mail and talking to a scanner), I got the following results on Google's V8 benchmark suite v.3:
537 Firefox
3482 Safari
5818 Chrome

On v.5, I got:
577 Firefox
3140 Safari
6241 Chrome

One place Chrome seemed to really excel was the RayTrace portion of the benchmark, though benchmark portions designed to exercise memory management was three times better on Safari than Firefox but over an order of magnitude better on Chrome than Firefox. Google's engineers seem bent on building a general-purpose programming environment in their browser.

While Apple is clearly focused on turning out new hardware products, and is likely more concerned about producing a quality successor default filesystem than further optimizing what is probably at least the second-fastest javascript engine on the planet, Google may have an advantage in doing what it does best -- delivering software for browser users.

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