Saturday, April 19, 2008

TechWeb Technology News

PalmSource Inc. on Tuesday launched the latest version of its operating system, which targets manufacturers of the increasing number of advanced cellular phones in the market.

Palm OS Cobalt 6.1 provides integrated telephony features, support for wireless technologies Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and enhancements to the user interface.

"We believe Palm OS Cobalt 6.1 optimizes our platform for the creation of cutting-edge smartphones and wireless devices that are powerful yet easy-to-use," David Nagel, president and chief executive of PalmSource, said in a statement issued from the company's developer conference in Munich, Germany.

Smartphones are advanced cellular phones that include cameras and many of the features found in handheld computers, such as calendaring and contact lists. While smartphones make up a small portion of the cellular phone market today, their share is expected to grow.

The number of cellular phones sold this year is expected to reach 620 million units, according to researcher Gartner Inc. Consumers replacing older phones with feature-rich, color-screen handsets are driving sales in mature markets, such as Western Europe and North America.

The Palm OS Cobalt 6.1 supports GSM, or Global System for Mobile Communications; and GPRS, or General Packet Radio Service, which enables continuous flows of IP data packets for such applications as Web browsing and file transfers. A GPRS application-programming interface is available to make it easier for handset makers to deliver smartphone features.

The OS also includes interruptible hot sync, automatic backup and built-in support for one-handed and five-way navigation.

PalmSource's push into the smartphone market is pivotal, given the ground its OS has lost against rival Microsoft Corp.'s Windows CE in the market for handheld computers, also called personal digital assistants.

In the first quarter of the year, Palm OS and Windows CE were tied in PDA OS shipments, with about 40 percent each. Palm OS shipments fell by 20.7 percent from the same period a year, while Windows CE continued its climb upwards. In 2000, Microsoft's OS accounted for only 11 percent of the market.

PDA shipments overall, however, have been steadily declining, as an increasing number of consumers switch to cellular phones with similar capabilities.

In other news from the PalmSource Euro DevCon, PalmSource started shipping version 3.0 of its web browser, which has been enhanced for use in smartphones with such features as page zooming, scalable fonts and squeeze-rendering, which allow users to eliminate horizontal scrolling for easier navigation.

In addition, PalmSource released the Palm OS Developer Suite 1.0 for building multimedia and wireless applications for Palm-powered devices. The tools are available at no charge through PalmSource's web site.

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