EarthLink puts e-mail on PDAs
By Douglas F. Gray
(IDG) -- ISP EarthLink expanded into handheld Internet access Wednesday with a wireless Internet service for some devices running Microsoft's and PalmSource's operating systems.
The wireless Internet and e-mail service is available for Palm's Vx, M500, and M505 models. It can operate on Handspring's Visor Edge, Pro, Prism, Platinum, and Neo personal digital assistants (PDAs), which run the Palm operating system. The service is also available on Compaq's IPaq H3600 series and Hewlett-Packard's Jornada 520 and 540 devices running Microsoft's Pocket PC 2000 operating system, the company said in a statement.
EarthLink plans to add support for Microsoft's newest operating system, Pocket PC 2002, within the next 45 to 60 days. The Pocket PC 2002 version of the operating system was unveiled last fall, and was designed for use on PDAs that do not support telephony.
EarthLink will charge Palm OS and Jornada users $39.95 per month or $399.95 annually for unlimited usage. The fees for IPaq users are $59.95 monthly or $649.95 annually for unlimited usage, the company said.
Palm's own unlimited wireless service is priced at $39.95 per month. A modem is not included with either service. Also, Research in Motion recently announced a deal Tuesday with AT&T Wireless Service to offer a version of its device with e-mail and phone services on the carriers' high-speed data network.
The service for IPaq has a higher price because it is aimed toward those who use the service more, said EarthLink spokesman Arley Baker.
One analyst said that EarthLink may have a tough time competing with existing services in an already crowded market.
"I don't hear anything about there being any shortage of ISPs in this market, so they may find it a bit difficult," said Todd Kort, principal analyst with Gartner.
EarthLink probably made the right choice by offering an unlimited plan, Kort said. "It's a difficult choice, to price it this way or price it on the amount of data sent," he said. "People are a little more comfortable when they have an idea of what the bill will be," instead of receiving a large file and being surprised by the bill.
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