Palm gets its blue teeth into Wireless

Palm gets its blue teeth into Wireless

Bluetooth support for Palm's handheld offerings look set to be available in Australia by the end of the year.

Palm has announced the first Bluetooth Card for Palm personal digital assistants (PDAs). The card, which is slightly larger than a postage stamp, can be used with the new SD/MultiMediaCard expansion slot incorporated into Palm m500 and m505 devices. Palm worked with Toshiba to develop the integration and software for the card under the industry standard Secure Digital Input Output (SDIO) specification.

"Palm will base all forthcoming devices with the SD expansion slot so new devices will also be able to take advantage of this technology," said Gavin Maxwell, Palm platform developer alliance manager for Australia New Zealand and South East Asia.

After a slow start, Bluetooth technology - which allows users to connect wirelessly to devices or networks at a range of 10 metres - is increasingly filtering into the Australian marketplace.

"Users have been able to connect wirelessly via infrared for around three years now - not just via phones but through any device with an infrared port," Maxwell explained. "But there is a huge industry push behind Bluetooth."

Bluetooth has the backing of industry heavyweights such as Toshiba, IBM, Ericsson, Nokia and Intel. Palm is hoping the wireless functionality will help increase PDA sales.

"Once we start seeing more devices on the market incorporating Bluetooth, it is certainly going to increase the uptake of handhelds."

Initial use of the technology will be to connect PDAs to the Internet or corporate networks via mobile phones. Maxwell says the channel stands to reap the benefits in terms of integration and services.

"There is a huge opportunity for resellers in terms of integration. We are seeing devices such as LAN access points becoming more common."

Pricing for the Bluetooth card has yet to be finalised, but Palm estimates its will retail for around $US150.

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