Host of new features including music on way from Palm

Palm has music on its mindA host of new features may be available for the Palm in 2001, a company official said, but not if they compromise the platform's elegance and simplicity.

In speech at the PalmSource developers conference Wednesday, Palm's vice president of product planning and strategy, Michael Mace, said third-party providers were working on MP3 playback capabilities, enhanced multimedia, and higher-resolution screens.

The trick, according to Mace, will be adding new features for some Palm users without forcing them onto users who don't want them. "Only 15 percent of Palm users want an integrated MP3 player," Mace said. "Why force them on [the other 85 percent]?"

Mace's remark alluded to Microsoft's Pocket PC platform, which adds an MP3 player, Web browser, plus word processing and spreadsheet applications to every device. Adding so many applications could interfere with Palm's elegant, simple interface, according to Mace.

Palm's licensee and partner, Handspring, already offers MP3 players for its Visor PDAs, which use Springboard modules to provide expandability. Currently, there is an MP3 player available for the Palm: PocketPyro's $299 Pyro connects to the bottom of any Palm device. The Pyro, which uses SD memory cards, can also be detached for use as an independent player.

Two other Palm players also are on the way: the M100-compatible porta-sound and the Palm V-compatible tsunamidi, both from i-Vox. Still incomplete In his remarks, Mace discounted mounting competition from cell phone manufacturers and PC makers.

Currently available cell phone models can't compete with Palm devices, he said. They either have too many features or not enough. And PC manufacturers are trying in vain to shoehorn bigger computers onto small devices.

Although he was not specific, Mace said the Palm of the future may include second-generation smart phones, clip-on and integrated wireless devices, Bluetooth integration, and email notification. "The cool thing [about the Palm platform] is that it's still incomplete," Mace said.

When our Bluetooth-enabled PDAs begin accessing the Internet in coffee shops via Bluetooth access points we'll find ourselves in the position of striking up trust relationships with devices unknown to us. Jason Brooks thinks the technology is finally coming of age, although the problem area that will be tougher to address is security. Go to AnchorDesk UK for the news comment.

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