Palm and RealVision Technology has announced a telephony attachment device for the Palm V handheld device, enabling the PDA (personal digital assistant) to function like a cell phone. The device, as yet unnamed, will snap on to the PDA and will include a headset to enable users to listen to and hold phone conversations.
Scheduled to go on sale in early 2001, the device will be available initially to users in Europe and Asia at a price of $US299. The device will have dual-band GSM (global system for mobile communication) compatibility.
"We have no plans for the US market yet," said Tim Roper, director of business development at Palm. The company decided to first go after the Asia and Europe markets as the GSM cellular standard tends to dominate in those regions, he added.
The release of the cell phone snap-on device for the Palm V comes a few days after PDA rival Handspring announced the VisorPhone, a snap-on feature for its handheld device the Handspring Visor.
Palm's Roper stressed that the timing of the Palm announcement wasn't related to the earlier news from HandSpring. "It's pure coincidence," Roper said. "Our product has been under development for a couple of months."
But will users accept a device that converts their Palm V into a cell phone?
"The device will surely have its early adopters," said Tim Scannell, industry analyst at Mobile Insights. He wasn't too sure about the device's future though, adding that it could become a standard fixture if embraced by early adopters.
"Add-on devices are a band-aid approach for PDA manufacturers to provide solutions," Scannell said. However, he believes that the snap-on device does mark a step in the right direction for Palm's PDA and the company's wireless applications.
"Wireless functionality is an important part of Palm's strategy for their PDAs," Scannell said, adding that such functionality will soon become standard in all the company's handheld devices.