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Palm delays release of next-generation handheld

Palm developers conference won't now see first demo of Razor/Palm IV

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3Com appears to have delayed the next version of the Palm organiser, codenamed Razor. Instead of a pre-Christmas release, as originally planned, the new machine will ship sometime next year. Information leaking out regarding the preparations for the December Palm developers conference suggest that the new device will not be demonstrated to attendees. If true, the chances of Razor making it out of the door in the near future are slim. Any delay to Razor is also likely to knock back the release of Bali, the first Palm with a colour screen. Bali was originally slated to appear early next year. According to reports that emerged in the summer, Razor is a thinner version of the current Palm III -- it has been said to be half the thickness of the 0.5in Palm III. In other respects, the two machines were said be identical. Bali was said to be based on the same technology, but offer a colour LCD. Now, talk is of a third device, said to be called the Palm IV, that includes more RAM and ROM than the Palm III and "a better display". It will also offer built-in wireless comms technology. That follows comments from Janice Roberts, Palm's acting general manager, that the company is modifying the PalmOS to support such technologies. Of course, none of these technologies are mutually exclusive, suggesting that in fact they're all aspects of the same machine. It's not hard to imagine a slimline Palm IV with an optional colour screen and wireless support. All of which is in line with Roberts' comments, and statements made by Palm's VP for strategic alliances an platform development, Mark Bercow, and 3Com CEO Eric Benhamou, all of whom have been stressing a more corporate, mobile networking orientation for the Palm since Palm Computing founders Donna Dubinsky and Jeff Hawkins, and later martketing VP Ed Colligan, quit the company to form Handspring, a firm dedicated to developing consumer-oriented Palm-style products. Delaying the Palm IV as it's readjusted for a more 'vertical' role, makes sense, and, in any case, 3Com doesn't want to limit sales of Palm IIIs over Christmas by releasing an alternative version at the start of the season. ®

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