RealTime IT News

Sony, PalmSource Work Together on Bluetooth

Sony Ericsson wants to get its phones talking with Palm -driven devices better, announcing Thursday its intention to optimize Bluetooth between the two for out-of-the-box compatibility.

Bluetooth, the wireless standard used for short-range data communications, is expected to fuel the drive for more interoperability between digital wireless phones and devices like PDAs.

One example officials at Ericsson give is users looking up a phone number on a PDA and having the device autodial the number on an accompanying Ericsson phone. Another, not mentioned though just as convenient, is the ability to download files from the 3G phone and automatically transfer it to the PDA. The handheld has more storage space and, enabled with Bluetooth, is easily shared among others using the same technology.

"Palm powered handhelds are centered around mobile communications," said Albert Chu, PalmSource vice president of business development and wireless, in a statement Thursday. "By working with Sony Ericsson, the entire wireless community can benefit from the advancements in interoperability."

Sony has given more attention to handheld interoperability in recent times. On Oct. 8, the company took a six percent equity investment stake in Palm, to the tune of $20 million.

Palm officials, who are in the process of separating its hardware and OS divisions into two separate companies, took the news as an endorsement of its decision to split and commitment to the OS platform. PalmSource, the software side of the company, has seen its market share crumble at the edges as Microsoft heavily markets its PocketPC running on Windows CE.

As such, the company has been scrambling to renew its licensing agreements with handheld device makers; in essence, getting more endorsements from the business community on the Palm 5 OS, which was released earlier this year. On Wednesday, PalmSource announced it had extended its agreement with Kyocera Wireless another three years.

Another worry is whether consumers will pay for a PDA anymore. But despite sluggish handheld sales this year, research outfit IDC predicts that trend will reverse because of Bluetooth's variable in the equation. Through 2006, the company reports, Bluetooth-enabled handhelds will see an annual growth of 108 percent, compounded.