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Palm to shut personal data portal

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Updated Palm is to close its MyPalm Web-based personal information management service on 10 January 2002, the company has warned the portal's users.

The move comes as no big surprise: Palm rid itself of a dozen workers at the MyPalm HQ in Cambridge, Massachusetts recently, according to sources close to the company.

"All MyPalm Web portal services... will cease operation... All PIM data will be permanently deleted from the MyPalm portal and will no longer be accessible," a message on the site states. Between now and 10 January, users should transfer their online information to their PDA or a PC-based PIM, the company suggests.

And users should forward their Palm.com-addressed email to another account, the message states. Palm.com email addresses will be deleted on 10 January. Only subscribers to Palm's Palm.net wireless Net access service will be allowed to maintain their Palm.com email addresses.

MyPalm was launched a year ago, shortly after Palm acquired online PIM company AnyData.com in May 2000 for $80 million in cash. The plan was to provide a universal Web-based PIM allowing users to access their diaries, address books, to-do lists and so on from any machine with a Net connection, anywhere.

MyPalm got into hot water early on after Palm found that the mypalm.com domain name was already owned, by British IT consultant Dominic Hulewicz. After accusing Hulewicz of being a cybersquatter - he said he only used the domain name for his own email - and threatening all kinds of legal action, the company leased the name from him for an undisclosed sum.

Since mypalm.com reverted to Hulewicz last September and Palm apparently made no attempt to maintain the lease, it seems likely that the site's days were numbered even then.

Essentially, MyPalm was a portal play, geared to making money by bringing in viewers who would pay for subscription services and encourage advertisers to play their wares on the site. Palm also hoped the provision of PIM services would encourage users to buy its PDAs to allow them to access their personal information when they weren't connected to the Web.

The plan's flaw is that if you've got a PDA with you, you don't need to access your data via the Web. Keeping Web data synchronised with a PDA on the off-chance that you might leave the device at home, was presumably too much of an effort for most Palm users. And a PDA is perceived to be rather more secure than a Web site. ®

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