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Palm plans GSM wireless access in Europe this year

But is sketchy on the who and the how

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CeBIT 2000 Palm intends to have GSM wireless connectivity in Europe by the end of the year, Greg Rhine, VP of worldwide sales, said in CeBIT today. But he was less than specific about where he was going to get it, and what form it would take. Talking to The Register, Rhine said the issues are more concerned with user perception than with engineering. In the US, the Palm VII fires itself up when the lid is flipped up, but this model is not appropriate for the European market. It's not entirely clear why this isn't appropriate, and if Palm were going to offer an integrated unit, the technical issues would be important. It'd need to be teaming up with an outfit with considerable GSM experience, either a manufacturer or an integration/design house in order to do so. But Rhine seems more concerned with having the right partner, and being able to benefit from widespread roaming agreements. That implies the deal Palm envisages is largely about getting a network together and using a Palm-handset combination, rather than building new hardware. Rhine reinforces this by suggesting Vodafone as a leading contender, and hopes to build on an existing US relationship with Vodafone-Airtouch. We trust he's got further than hoping, as what plays in Vodafone US doesn't necessarily do so in Vodafone Europe. Rhine agreed with our characterisation that Palm's approach will continue to be to offer a least-common-denominator product for its products, with add-ons through hardware partners. 3Com showed its colour IIIc, but was reticent to say much of interest because they are in their pre-IPO quiet period. With a plethora of other palm-product announcements, Rhine cautioned against comparing Palm's shipping products with other vendors' vapourware. A not very coded riposte to Symbian's current Palm-killer stance, no doubt. ® CeBIT 2000: Full Coverage

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