BeOS : PalmOS :: NextStep : MacOS?

by Marc Hedlund

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Was Palm thinking about Apple's acquisition of NeXT when they acquired Be?

The acquisition of NeXT revitalized OS development for Apple, which had long been mired in attempts to revise its MacOS software. Bringing in NeXT (and Steve Jobs) allowed Apple to release MacOS X, revitalizing its developer community and providing a stable UNIX environment with a rich Mac interface.

Perhaps Palm decided to go back to the same well -- acquiring the company Apple passed over when it acquired NeXT. The recent successes of the iPaq and PocketPC have led some critics to claim PalmOS is too old and lacking in features. More Internet connectivity! Better office intergration! Richer multimedia content! What does the BeOS offer to meet these needs?

Be has applied its proven expertise in modern, streamlined, modular operating systems to this challenge and created a new platform to provide information, entertainment and rich Internet experiences to consumers.

It's interesting to think about these two companies, Apple and Palm, reaching outside the company to revise their operating systems. You might think the OS would be far too integral and elaborate to be amenable to acquisitive revision, but there it is, two large platform companies acquiring small, software-only OS vendors to breed the next generation platform. Of course, only one of them got Steve Jobs in the deal -- Be's CEO, Jean-Louis Gassée, will only be staying at Palm for a time as an advisor.