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PalmSource '99 to focus on wireless, business apps

October 18, 1999
Web posted at: 11:03 a.m. EDT (1503 GMT)

by James Niccolai

Network World Fusion

(IDG) -- New software and services that extend the Palm computer's wireless capabilities, as well as a host of new offerings aimed at corporate users, are on the menu for Palm Computing's annual PalmSource conference this week.

The four-day event starts Tuesday in Santa Clara, Calif. The event will give more than 40 firms making products based on the Palm a chance to show off their wares. In addition, PalmSource will let developers and customers view the latest of what Palm has to offer.

The impressive speaker line-up includes John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco, Eric Benhamou, chairman and CEO of 3Com, Jeff Hawkins, founder of Handspring Technologies and inventor of the Palm Pilot, and Jim Barksdale, former head of Netscape, Palm officials say.


Many of the new products and services will be aimed at large corporations, in line with Palm Computing's goal of making the Palm an integral part of daily business life. While some workers already carry a Palm for personal use, the company wants to appeal to businesses "through the front door" by offering business-specific software and services, says Alan Kessler, Palm Computing's president.

Among the announcements, will unveil a service that gives Palm users access to collaborative applications such as a calendar and contact list that are hosted by on the Web. Users choose the applications they want to use by setting up an account at the company's Web site. They can synchronize data with their handheld using the Palm docking station, or wirelessly using a Palm VII and WeSync's Wireless Refresh technology.

The service, which goes into public beta Tuesday and is slated to be commercially available in 60 days, will be free to use. plans to add more applications and offer a Professional service in the first quarter next year, including more advanced management features such as permission-based access. Users will have to pay a monthly fee for the Professional service, which will cost "no more than supplying each worker with a pager," says Matthew Melendez,'s director of marketing.

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JP Systems will announce a partnership with Certicom to incorporate that company's encryption technology within JP Systems' OneTouch e-mail and Infobeam wireless messaging system for the Palm. The combination will let developers create secure applications which could used, for example, e-commerce applications, says Dayakar Puskoor, JP Systems' CEO.

JP Systems will also announce that it has partnered with wireless communications firm Widcomm to offer software for Handspring's Visor computer that lets users access e-mail using Bluetooth. Bluetooth is an emerging wireless technology that connects devices in the home or office at a distance of up to about 100 meters. The Bluetooth software will be available in the first quarter of next year, Puskoor says.

Privately-held TRG Products, which makes add-in memory boards for Palm computers, says it will unveil a new handheld computer based on the Palm operating system. TRG is staying tight-lipped about the device, although a source indicates that it will be marketed towards businesses rather than individual users, and packs more memory than existing handhelds.

Nettech Systems will announce a suite of middleware that helps developers write wireless applications for tapping into corporate databases. The middleware will allow Palm users to access databases directly using an external modem or the Palm VII's wireless capabilities, but without having to go through Palm's service. That will allow companies that already offer packaged applications for the Nettech architecture, including Sybase, to easily retool them for use in wireless Palm computers, a Nettech spokeswoman says.

Meanwhile, DataViz says it will extend the capabilities of its Documents To Go software, which lets users synchronize PC data from Microsoft Word, Excel and other programs not supported natively in the Palm operating system. The upgrade will provide support for additional data types, although a company spokeswoman wouldn't provide specifics.

For consumers, will announce a new query application for the Palm VII, the BarPoint Shopper. Using the wireless service, the application lets users read product descriptions online, do comparison shipping and purchase goods, the company says.

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