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PalmSource Aims To Unify Smartphone Market

Like a teenager with a new cell phone, PalmSource is wasting no time calling all of its friends around for a party.

Case in point: AMD. Less than a month since the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based PDA software maker spun off from its hardware twin palmOne, PalmSource Monday launched its Palm Powered MobileWorld program. The goal is to connect mobile operators, infrastructure providers and software developers in a wireless ecosystem that takes advantage of the growing smartphone market.

The program consists of two key elements. First, PalmSource wants to make the Palm OS the most service-ready platform for smart mobile devices. The company said it plans making that come true with a combination of collaborations and use the feedback to improve the OS. Secondly, PalmSource said it would work with mobile operators to create a catalog for over-the-air (OTA) delivery to Palm Powered smartphones. Powered by PalmGear, the directory includes more than 20,000 software titles currently available on its PDAs. Smartphone shoppers can try, purchase and download the titles including business apps and games like Bejeweled, MobileDB, SplashMoney and SplashData.

"Palm Powered MobileWorld is a key strategic initiative designed to ignite the growth of the new wireless Palm economy," PalmSource president and CEO David Nagel said in a statement. "We believe that this program creates a tremendous revenue-generating opportunity for mobile operators, infrastructure providers and software developers. Palm Powered MobileWorld also makes it easier for customers to purchase wireless Palm OS applications over-the-air from their Palm Powered smartphone, changing the whole user experience of buying and installing applications on smart mobile devices."

The company said its refocused effort on smartphones makes sense. According to IDC's 2002 survey, the converged mobile device market is the fastest growing, revenue-producing segment of the phone market.

No stranger to the smartphone space PalmSource's goal is to become the platform leader in the smartphone market. But similar to its PDA competition, PalmSource will have to fight off advances by Microsoft and convert the large install base in Europe and Asia away from Symbian.

Hopefully helping the cause, PalmSource Monday said Sprint has joined its MobileWorld program as a charter mobile operator partner. The partnership will manifest itself as Sprint's Palm Powered PCS Vision Smart Device customers. Currently, the Palm Powered PCS Vision smart devices power the Handspring (now merged with palmOne) Treo 600 and the SPH-i500 by Samsung. As a charter member, Sprint said it would collaborate with PalmSource in several areas including cooperative marketing and rallying the more than 275,000-strong Palm OS developer community to meet the needs of key vertical markets.

PalmSource also said it has licensed its operating system to PerComm. The Massachusetts-based firm makes ReFLEX advanced messaging devices and FLEX and POCSAG 1-way devices. Through the agreement, PerComm said it plans to mix the Palm OS 5 to create new smart mobile devices that operate on wireless networks including ReFLEX, GSM and CDMA. "We expect that partnering with PalmSource will open up new market opportunities and expand our current product offerings to include feature phones on the GSM network, while encouraging the development of new software applications," said PerComm president and CEO Edmond Fung.