Palm Computing, a 3Com company, announced that the much anticipated Palm VII wireless organizer is now available to retailers in the New York metropolitan area, with a national roll-out slated for later this year.
Hailed by 3Com as the "first true consumer information appliance," the Palm VII will carry an estimated street price of $599, sharper than the previously announced price of "under $800."
The Palm VII is the first wireless organizer offered by 3Com, which has an estimated 70-plus percent share of the handheld market. It is based on the Palm III but adds two-way communication and Internet access through a miniature two-way radio and antenna integrated into the unit, according to 3Com. A key feature of the Palm VII is quick access to sought-after information such as flight schedules, news headlines and online transactions such as stock trades.
To activate the Palm VII users simply turn it on, and it prompts the user through credit card information input and then activates within minutes, according to 3Com. Users then pay an estimated $9.99 per month for service (or $24.99 for heavy users).
Wireless service is provided by Palm.Net via the BellSouth Wireless Data network. The company has also developed a means of abbreviating web access where only critical information is accessed from a participating website. Companies can make their web site compatible with this new format called Web Clipping and those who have pre-announced a commitment to the format include ABCNEWS.com, Bank of America, ESPN.com, Etak, E*TRADE, Fodor's, Frommer's, MapQuest, MasterCard, Merriam-Webster, Moviefone, OAG, TheStreet.com, Ticketmaster, Travelocity, UPS, USA Today, U.S. West, Visa International, The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition, The Weather Channel, and Yahoo!.
Dataquest also announced yesterday that handheld computers including 3Com PalmPilot and Microsoft Windows CE- type products are expected to ship nearly 50 percent more units this year over 1998, reaching 5.7 million units worldwide.
In a separate announcement relating to wireless access, Symbian announced that Matsushita has joined Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia and Psion in supporting the EPOC operating system for wireless devices. Matsushita will become a shareholder in the joint venture that is promoting the EPOC OS, specifically designed for use in wireless devices, as a de-facto standard for organizers, cellular phones and other products.