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Palm kicks off Euro 3G smart-phone R&D drive

Irish centre to develop carrier apps and more

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Palm has opened an R&D centre in Ireland, the better to create custom smart-phone applications for its European, Middle Eastern and African carrier customers, the company said today.

The R&D facility, located in Airside Business Park in Swords, County Dublin next door to Palm's existing European Operations and Supply Chain centre, was established with the help - for which read tax breaks, grants and/or other incentives - of the Ireland Development Agency.

In addition to developing "mobile operator-specific services and applications", the operation will help develop "core, leading-edge technologies, such as 3G/UMTS, to help Palm accelerate the delivery of next-generation smart phones to European mobile operators", the company revealed. It will also work on product certification and quality assurance.

Palm CEO Ed Colligan dubbed the centre "a significant step up for our R&D function".

Indeed, the move is a sign that Palm needs to up its game in Europe, particularly now that Nokia is gearing up to offer an email-oriented smart phone, the E61, which while is primarily pitched at the Blackberry market, could also impact Treo sales.

The E61 is due Q1 2006, just after Motorola's Q, with a similar Blackberry-like form-factor, arrives in the US. The Treo line is also up against HTC's Windows Mobile-based carrier-branded smart phone, which typically offer a broader feature-set than the Palm machine. ®

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