MS teams with Samsung Semi to produce low cost PDA design

There go the margins, folks...

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While Palmsource's Dave Nagel was denouncing Microsoft for attempting to commoditise the PDA market, Microsoft was, er, commoditising the PDA market some more. Following up on its production of reference designs for Microsoft-based mobile phones earlier this year Microsoft has teamed up with Samsung to produce a reference design for cheaper Pocket PC devices.

The ARM9-based design has a 3.5in colour or greyscale screen, can weigh as little as 2.9 ounces, and is intended to produce devices at the $299 pricepoint or below. And it's available already, meaning that Samsung and Microsoft have been quietly busy on this one for some time already.

The price point really just skims at the lower edge of Pocket PC pricing, so is unlikely to shake Palm's belief that it can own the entry level at $99. But it'll allow lower tier players to put out the dreaded undifferentiated commodity PDAs, which may be of some concern to Microsoft's existing Pocket PC partners. It probably won't be of concern to Dell, and we would be shocked, stunned and appalled if it turned out that Dell had not found itself in a position to benefit from Microsoft's work on lower-cost designs in the run-up to its own and to the Samsung announcement.

Microsoft and Dell both work that way, and like doing so very much.

As for Samsung, what can you do with them? From their perspective maybe it's just simpler to license everything, but the company now has several areas of serious overlap. It supports Palm, Symbian, Nokia Series 60, Pocket PC, Linux and if any of you would care to make one up and fax it to them they'd probably support that as well. The actual Microsoft deal here though is with Samsung Semiconductor, so although Samsung will no doubt use the tech in its own finished products, Samsung Semi will be wanting to sell the design into OEM/ODM channels.

There are a lot of smaller Korean companies likely to bite so, coming to a supermarket near you Real Soon Now... ®


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