Palm Unwired

One of the main reasons that Palm Inc. (Nasdaq: PALM) has reworked its handheld operating system so that it can run on processors designed by ARM Ltd. (Nasdaq: ARMHY; London: ARM) is to improve the wireless capabilities of its PDAs.

Now that the company has shipped Palm OS 5 -- the first version of its code that can run on the ARM chips -- to its licensees, it is starting to unveil more wireless plans.

Acting CEO Eric Benhamou, talking at the Bear Stearns & Co. Inc. technology conference in NYC, says the first handhelds running OS 5 will be out this fall. The company plans to support general packet radio service (GPRS) cellular connectivity later this year. That's a crucial capability if Palm is to compete in the smartphone market against Nokia Corp. and others.

The company has also implemented support for 802.11b wireless LAN connectivity in this version of the OS. "In less than one year, 802.11b will be on the motherboard," Benhamou says.

Now, this all sounds impressive, but Palm is notorious for talking up wireless and then not delivering. They demonstrated Bluetooth cards at Germany's CeBIT trade show in the spring of 2000 -- and actually started shipping Bluetooth cards in mid-March 2002.

— Todd Spangler, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch http://www.byteandswitch.com,
and Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung http://www.unstrung.com
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