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France Telecom to deploy Palm-based wireless services

Three-cornered deal puts IBM in with servers and infrastructure

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France Telecom has opted for a combination of Palm Computing client and IBM back-end system for a wireless data system for businesses to be launched in the second half of the year. The move will provides a boost to the Palm-IBM axis as a possible 'third force' in wireless data. IBM itself licenses the Palm Pilot, and favours it as part of its own pervasive computing strategy. This is largely intended to sell servers, software and services, and can be seen as equivalent in intent to the Microsoft approach, currently being tested in the UK in conjunction with BT Cellnet, and the more recently-announced Vodafone approach, which bundles together the handset heavyweights with Sun, Psion and anything else that isn't nailed down but Vodafone thinks looks handy, apparently. With strengthening ties between Vodafone and France's Vivendi in the past couple of days, that should mean the Vodafone platform will come up against France Telecom's Itineris via Vivendi's local competitor, SFR. The new France Telecom service will combine Internet access and access to corporate applications via Palm devices. This will include email, scheduling, diary and LOB apps. As it's aimed at business, it still appears to leave manoeuvring space for France Telecom when it comes to more consumer-oriented services. ®

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