Samsung Unveils Palm OS 5 GSM Smartphone

Already reputed for its sophisticated line of mobile phones, Samsung Electronics allied itself this week with Sunnyvale, Calif.-based PalmSource, Inc, the software subsidiary of Palm Inc., to co-develop the first GSM-based, next-generation smartphone running on the Palm OS 5 platform.

Shaped just like a standard smartphone, which PalmSource’s Michael Higashi describes as a “sleek, clam shell design,” the new Mobile Information Terminals (MITs) SGH-i500 has built-in multi-media and wireless capabilities in addition to an MMS Client and WAP 2.0 web browser for wireless Web access.

Additionally, the MITs SGH-i500 smartphone comes with a 330,000 pixel digital camera that can support a color, PC-quality TFT-LCD screen.

The lightweight MITs SGH-i500 also comes with bundled multimedia applications for video, audio, and viewing data, email, or documents on-the-run.

The MITs SGH-i500 is the third Palm OS-based handset Samsung has produced in recent years, but it is the first that is based on the Palm OS 5 platform, said Higashi.

The Samsung/PalmSource alliance is among the company’s first business relationships since plans were announced last year by its parent company Palm, Inc. that Palm Solutions and PalmSource would officially become two separately traded companies.

Following the announcement, PalmSource CEO David Nagel went to market with not only a new handheld operating platform, the Palm OS 5, but new additions to the company’s product line and a slew of new licensing partnerships including Kyocera, Acer, Garmin, and Handspring, and a hefty business alliance with China, one of the fastest growing handheld consumer markets in the world.

“The China market is very important, obviously,” Nagel told a news conference. “Worldwide, China is one of the leading economic powers in terms of growth and diversification, and we see the same growth in consumers themselves.”

New PalmSource-generated products include a deal with Texas-based Fossil to include the Palm OS platform in a new wristwatch device (called Wrist PDA) under two brands: Fossil and Abacus. The Wrist PDAs are expected to ship in the middle of 2003.

Among its newly forged China-based business ties is a four-year deal to license its OS operating system to the Legend Group and the Group Sense (International) Limited (GSL).

The president of the Legend Group, Lu Yan, was quoted as saying that his company plans on putting the Palm OS platform in more than half of the company’s PDAs by the end of 2003.

PalmSource also recently opened a subsidiary in Hong Kong to more easily foster relationships in the region, the company said.

According to representatives for PalmSource, the Samsung deal is just another feather in the company’s new hat.

“Combining Samsung’s world leadership in the handset market with the power and flexibility of the Palm OS, has enabled the development of innovative and easy to use smartphones like the MITs SGH-i500,” said Nagel.

Samsung’s new smartphone is scheduled for rollout later this year.

Editor’s note: PalmSource CEO David Nagel recently sat down with for a one-on-one interview about the future of his company. You can read that Q&A session here.

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