David Nagel, the former vice-president of product research and development at Apple Computer, is to head Palm's operating system spin-off, PalmSource.
Nagel said he has gained a deep understanding of wireless technology through his career with Apple, one of the first company's to launch a handheld computer device, and as chief technology officer at AT&T.
PalmSource, he admits, will need to excel if it aims to compete successfully with companies like Microsoft and Symbian.
"The transition from 2G digital mobile networks to 3G mobile broadband networks has created an opportunity for us that wasn't there before," said Nagel. "In 2G, the prevailing software model was a closed, embedded one. The new 3G environment is open to other players."
The battle, according to Nagel, will be fought around the range of applications available to consumers and enterprise users alike.
"The winners will be those who deliver the most and the richest," he said. "The 'killer application' will be diversity."
Nagel said PalmSource's strength is its open platform which has attracted more than 275,000 software developers to create almost 200,000 applications.
"Open platforms are so much more efficient at garnering third-party development," he said. "Anyone who is discriminate will choose a product with a same-priced software platform that offers choice versus one that doesn't.
"As for Linux, yes it's open but architecturally complex -- a tough operating system for human beings," Nagel said. "It's not clear to me that Linux is tameable for consumer products."
Nagel said PalmSource will integrate the various "wireless stacks" in the next version of its OS, which in the past, that its licence partners had to add themselves to build their smart phones.
John Blau writes for IDG News Service