Palm VII gathering third party support

While 3Com gets ready for a nationwide launch of the Palm VII, third-party developers are preparing software to broaden the appeal of the wireless handheld device.

Startup CTNY next week will launch a new company, ThinAirApps, which will deliver a product enabling users to access corporate or home email accounts from the Palm VII.

The Palm VII allows only a connection to the email account that 3Com's Palm Computing division provides via its Palm.Net service. The ThinAirMail software enables connections to other email accounts by supporting Internet Messaging Access Protocol (IMAP) and Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3) protocols. Palm VII supports only HTTP or HTTP-S (Secure Sockets Layer) specifications.

CTNY's server listens for HTTP-S requests from the Palm VII and turns them into the relevant messaging protocol for a company's email server. The ThinAirMail client will be available as a free download from CTNY's Web site.

CTNY also plans to release next month the Secure Server, for securing access to corporate email systems from Palm devices. Meanwhile, Riverbed Technologies this autumn plans to ship Scout Web, which sources close to the company describe as a proxy server that sits between a handheld device and a Web server. The product converts HTML content from the server for clear rendering on the handheld device. That way, developers won't have to rewrite Web applications to fit handheld devices.