Palm to dump its Web-based portal

Summary:The handheld giant will discontinue the MyPalm Web portal, saying the idea of storing personal information on the Web has lost some of its popularity.

Handheld giant Palm plans to discontinue the Web-based MyPalm portal that offers online access to personal calendars and address books.

According to a message posted on its Web site, Palm will delete all customer data on Jan. 10. Palm is keeping a separate mobile portal also known as MyPalm that offers content to people with handhelds capable of wireless data access.

Palm spokeswoman Marlene Somsak said the idea of storing one's personal information on the Web was big a year ago but has waned with the dot-com bust.

"Our interest in Web PIM (personal information management) was predicated on the premise that (it) would be more widely adopted and take advantage of revenue streams such as advertising and subscriptions," Somsak said Monday. "That has not happened in the industry."

As previously reported, Palm earlier this month cut more than a dozen jobs at its Cambridge, Mass., site. That facility was home to some of the company's MyPalm efforts and was the former site of Anyday.com, an online calendar company acquired by Palm last year. That cash and stock deal was valued at $80 million when it was announced in May 2000.

Somsak said Palm is looking to narrow its focus to businesses that can help the bottom line in the short term and the long term. Palm had already taken a $47.7 million writedown related to the Anyday.com acquisition.

Despite the upcoming demise of the online calendar program that was the heart of Anyday.com, Somsak said Palm has received some benefits from the acquisition, including an improved system for managing subscribers of its Internet services, as well as engineers who have produced new mobile applications that will be used in Palm's next-generation wireless device. That handheld, originally expected this year, has been delayed until 2002.

Sources have said that Palm plans to announce additional layoffs as early as this week. The company has already cut roughly 500 workers in two rounds of cuts earlier this year. Palm has declined to comment on the potential of new layoffs.

In addition to axing its online calendar and address book, the company is also deleting the Palm.com e-mail accounts for all customers, except for Palm VII and Palm VIIx owners who get their wireless Internet service through Palm.

MyPalm was announced in November 2000. At that time, the company had not yet acquired the Mypalm.com domain name. The company then reached a deal to share the domain with Dominic Hulewicz, the owner of a British Internet consulting firm who used Mypalm.com as the domain name for the e-mail address for his handheld. For much of the past year, traffic to Mypalm.com has been redirected to the official MyPalm site: My.palm.com.

However, on Monday the site was displaying content that apparently belongs to Hulewicz, who has owned the Mypalm.com site since 1999.

Recently, Palm has not been touting its content-related business, focusing instead on splitting itself into two parts--a unit that makes its handhelds and the one that creates and licenses the Palm operating system. The company is looking to create a separate subsidiary for the OS business by the end of the year. And next year, Palm wants to start the process of creating two separately traded companies.

According to the letter on Palm's MyPalm portal: "Beginning January 10, 2002, Palm, Inc. will no longer offer the MyPalm Web portal. All MyPalm Web portal services, such as Date Book and Address Book, will cease operation, as will the Date Book Update and Free Time Viewer applications on MyPalm mobile portal. All PIM data (everything in your Date Book, Address Book, To Dos, Reminders and Memo Pad) will be permanently deleted from the MyPalm portal and will no longer be accessible."

Topics: Hewlett-Packard

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