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Palm widens scope for cloners

Palm clones due in "six to nine months", says president

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Palm Computing president Robin Abrams this week restated the company's plan to license the PalmOS platform to third-parties, but this time the message came with a clear change: the current licensing regime is far wider than the one set in place six months ago by then acting general manager Janice Roberts. Palm's original licensing model was a pretty tight affair, designed to attract Palm cloners to markets Palm itself isn't active in. The company's favourite example was Handspring, the business formed by Palm co-founders Donna Dubinsky and Jeff Hawkins to create a PalmOS-based handheld for consumer and education markets (see Palm founders drop hints about Handspring handheld). Now, said Abrams, speaking at the Demo Mobile 99 conference in San Diego, "broad licensing is critical" and went on to predict Palm clones appearing "six to nine months" down the line. After taking over the 3Com subsidiary, Abrams split the company into separate hardware and software business units, clearly paving the way for the kind of broad licensing programme she has in mind since it ensures the company shouldn't be dragged down as a whole if the hardware side is hit hard by competing Palm clones. Abrams didn't say who would be cloning the Palm, but the rumour mill continues to favour Apple, which has been working closely with Palm ever since interim CEO Steve Jobs tried to buy the company off 3Com. Apple brings to the deal its Newton technology, killed off by Jobs, and wireless networking expertise, some of which may already have found its way into the upcoming Palm VII. ® See also Palm to hit 60 per cent share by 2003

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