A mobile future in the Palm of your hands

The word mobile is no stranger to the world’s largest manufacturer of handheld devices. Having revolutionized the way people all over the world work on the move, Palm Inc.

Frankie LiowThe word mobile is no stranger to the world’s largest manufacturer of handheld devices. Having revolutionized the way people all over the world work on the move, Palm Inc. is looking now to expand that mobility factor to include wireless services and Internet access. South-Asia’s Marketing manager Frankie Liow pinpoints Bluetooth and secure payment technology as the driving factors for success.

How are some of Palm's initiatives to promote wireless standards?

Palm is a committed member of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, and will play a key role in helping Bluetooth become a wireless industry standard (for Personal Area Networking). It is an open standard in development for short-range, wirefree voice and data transmission between mobile devices - whether laptops, PDAs, or phones and printers.

The benefits of Bluetooth include lower power consumption and lower cost than alternative wireless protocols. Other wireless networking protocols, such as 802.11, exist, and there are third-party Palm solutions in the Palm Economy that support 802.11; so a Palm handheld can be used in this environment if needed. This would be an add-on type of product (due to the need for an additional battery to support the 802.11 radio; hence 802.11 can co-exist with Bluetooth).

Is Palm taking advantage of the current trend towards mobile commerce? Can handheld users expect any mobile services in the near future?

At the 2001 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year, Palm previewed breakthrough payment technology that is intended to enable consumers in the near future to make secure, fast purchases and returns using a virtual credit card embedded in a Palm handheld.

Later, consumers will be able to enjoy new personalised and interactive services, such as better tracking and management [of] their finances, getting eCoupons, being current on loyalty programs (frequent flyer, hotel chains) and getting automatic prompts for relevant purchase or entertainment options.

Palm is collaborating with the leaders in electronic payment to bring to consumers around the world, an easier, secure method of payment using Palm handhelds:

  • The infrastructure for transactions requires a financial ecosystem made up of retailers, financial institutions such as credit card companies and banks, and IR-capable payment terminals, which can be easily upgraded from existing card-swipe terminals
  • We have signed agreements with VeriFone and Ingenico to evaluate new payment methods based on POS terminals and Palm devices. VeriFone represents 19 percent market share and Ingenico 16 percent (Nilson report)
  • Visa is actively participating in the evaluation of these news payment schemes

    The most obvious and immediate way this Palm advancement will change people’s lives is that in the future, Palm handheld users could begin to be able to beam their way quickly through checkout counters, using their Palm handheld.

    Tell us more about Palm's partnership schemes.

    Worldwide, there are already more than 155,000 developers of third-party hardware and software products for the Palm OS platform.

    More than 42 percent of developers are located in non-US markets. There are more than 15,000 Palm OS platform developers in Asia Pacific and Japan, and more than 1,240 developers in Singapore alone.

    This success is driven by Palm's approach to the market. Rather than trying to squeeze all the features of a personal computer into a tiny package, Palm set the standards for simplicity, wearability and mobility by designing the Palm OS platform specifically for information management.

    What's Palm's game plan in the wireless arena?

    Palm's strategy for wireless leadership includes:

  • Palm Mobile Connectivity software, which lets you connect a Palm handheld running Palm OS 3.5 or above to a mobile phone, via either infrared or a cable
  • Snap-on wireless modems for Palm and licensee handhelds
  • Bluetooth cards that let a Palm handheld connect to a mobile phone
  • Integrated systems that combine a wireless radio and a Palm handheld

    Leading vendors, including Samsung, Nokia and Kyocera, have nominated the Palm OS platform and as the basis of forthcoming smartphones.

    Palm’s newest products, the m500 series, include out-of-the-box wireless functionality. The included Palm Mobile Connectivity software allows customers to connect to the Internet and manage email and SMS virtually anytime, anywhere using a data-enabled mobile phone with IR.

    The Palm Mobile Connectivity software also includes web clipping technology, which enables handheld users to access popular web content, such as United Airlines, DBS Bank, Street Directory.com, Singapore Airlines, Yahoo! and Visa International, in a format tailored for fast, comfortable handheld viewing. More than 600 web clipping applications can be downloaded free-of-charge at www.palm.net

    Handheld computing has been a mainstay of Palm. How is this lead going to be maintained?

    Even as Palm and its partners create the future of handheld computing, we will preserve the wearability and simplicity that have made our products the standard today. Adding too many features compromises the portability, ease-of-use and battery life of a handheld. It also adds additional cost. We believe customers will prefer to add and pay only for the features they need.

    The latest addition to the Palm product line, the Palm m500 series handhelds, retain the classic personal information management tools that have led the company to unrivalled industry leadership with more than 75 percent market share for the Palm OS, IDC, December, 2000.

    The Palm m500 series products are the first Palm handhelds to include Palm’s dual Expansion Strategy. Users can extend the functionality of their handheld through the Secure Digital/MultiMediaCard expansion slot or the Palm Universal Connector, to add storage, additional applications and content, backup, wireless modems, cameras, MP3 players, and more.

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