Palm to make all handhelds wireless

The Mobile Internet Kit will enable users to link most Palm cell phones and PDAs to the Web without the wires by year end

Palm has announced that it will be extending the capabilities of most of its devices beyond the wired world to the wireless Web. In doing so, the company will finally make use of infrared ports found on most phones and Palm personal digital assistants.

Later this year, Palm will release the Palm Mobile Internet Kit, which will enable Palm users to connect to the Internet via the infrared ports on their mobile phones. The goal is to make all Palm devices wirelessly enabled by year-end.

Motorola, Nokia and Ericsson have infrared ports on most of their phones. Cables are available for phones that don't have infrared ports.

The Mobile Internet Kit is a software application that will cost less than $50 and will offer the same Web clipping capabilities that are available now through the Palm VII.

"With the Internet Kit we are moving Palm devices beyond just personal information managers and allowing that information to be stored on the Internet or with others," said Alan Kessler, chief operating officer of Palm.

Kessler echoed the same theme pursued by companies such as America Online and MP3.com: that they will be allowing users to get to information anywhere and anytime.

Palm also announced that 25 more content companies will provide Web clipping applications, bringing the total to 37. And with those 37 providers, more than 350 Web clipping applications will be available for download from www.palm.net.

Palm's Web clipping technology, which was first used in Palm VII devices, allows users to send and receive query information quickly.

Query information is a request for a short and specific piece of information from the Web, such as a stock quote or a flight arrival time, which can be sent and received efficiently. The technology is not meant for Web browsing or file downloading.

Access to the Internet and to Web content, email and messaging services will be the key features for users. Users will also have the option to use the Wireless Application Protocol, or WAP, to access content.

The kit can be used with Palm devices that ship with the Palm OS 3.5 operating system. Palm IIIe and older 1000 models will not be able to use the kit.

Among the current content providers are ABCNews.com, Amazon.com, American Airlines, AOL, Ask Jeeves, Barnesandnoble.com, BarPoint, Britannica.com, buy.com, Continental Airlines, CBS MarketWatch.com, Delta Airlines, E*Trade, ESPN.com, Etak, Excite@Home, Fidelity, Juno, Knight-Ridder.com, Mapquest.com, Merriam-Webster, AOL Moviefone, Prudential, Rovenet.com, SNAZ, 1-800-TOW-TRUCK, Switchboard.com, ThinAirApps, Ticketmaster, Travelocity, United.com, USATODAY.com, USBanc Shares, Vicinity, weather.com, WSJ/Dow Jones, Yahoo! And Yodlee.com.

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