Palm eyes a rebound at CES, maybe with Linux

Seeming to take a cue from Apple, Palm Inc. this week sent out vaguely phrased invitations promising "Palm New-Ness" to journalists at CES. Will Palm launch a new Linux OS at the show? Or will it even resurrect Foleo?

Just when Palm, Inc. seemed to be utterly wilting away, the portable device maker has suddenly pulled an Apple-esque move, issuing a mysteriously worded invitation to a CES press conference.

"Yep, it's that time. Come to CES to see all that Palm New-ness you've been waiting for," according to Palm's PR team.

The Apple-like tease is spawning excited speculation among some journalists, who are apparently seeking something potentially positive to write about during these days of overriding economic doom and gloom.

Some theorize that Palm will roll out a new Linux-based OS -- previously codenamed Nova, and pledged for the end of 2008 -- which Palm executives have referred to as key to a Palm turnaround strategy. Or then again, could Palm be planning some sort of device based on Nova?

In September 2007, financially struggling Palm canceled an earlier project to build a 2.5-pound Linux-based device called Foleo, equipped with a 10.4-inch screen and full-size keyboard for working with e-mail and office documents housed on a smartphone.

In dumping Foleo late last year, officials said they would eventually come out with an improved version based on a "next generation" Linux platform.

If Palm does intend to finally launch a new Linux mobile platform, a device, or both, now would be the time to do so, given the growing adoption of Linux-based OS such as Android and LiMo. But the competition keeps gathering strength and clout, so Palm needs to get out there fast with some kind of really new and very compelling product.

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