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Palm to bring wireless Net to its PDAs

Well, sort of... you'll still need cables, etc.

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Palm yesterday filled out the detailed of its earlier promise to equip all of its handelds with wireless Net access by the end of the year.

The Palm Mobile Internet Kit essentially loads any Palm device with the software that already ships with the Palm VII. The Kit will contain drivers for Palm's Web clipping system, which pares down regular Web pages to make them easier to send across a wireless link and display on a Palm screen, plus email and SMS messaging apps.

Palm will also supply software that allows Palms to display WAP content - a smart move for the company's European customers. WAP is widely seen as the basis for a revolution in cellular Net access, though the tiny-screened cellphone is hardly an ideal platform for mobile data. Palms, on the other hand, are well-suited to such applications, and while Palm is unlikely to grab anything like the kind of mobile data marketshare that WAP-enabled cellphones will eventually take, supporting WAP means it will have possibly the best platform to take advantage of the technology.

And while most WAP phones will be sold to users who won't necessarily access the Net, Palm will be able to say that that's what many of its Mobile Internet Kit customers will be using it for.

Palm said the Kit will cost under $50, which strikes us as a mite mean, given users will also have to buy a wireless modem or cellphone connector, though some owners may be lucky enough to have an IR-equipped phone that's compatible with the Palm's IR port.

Given how Palm is damn keen to get its technology established as a de facto standard for wireless data, you'd have thought the company would rather give the software away to encourage its use. Certainly Palm was keen to announce some 37-odd companies will offer content specially designed for Web clippling devices.

Earlier this week, Palm said it will bring its Palm.net Internet portal service - and presumably the Palm VII - to Europe this summer. The Mobile Internet Kit is scheduled for a worldwide roll-out, so it's likely to appear alongside the Euro Palm.net launch. ®

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