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Sony Plans to Invest in Palm's OS Unit

Computers: $20-million deal gives the consumer electronics firm a 6% stake
and boosts the hand-held maker's plan to spin off the division.


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Question: What's A Smart Phone?

Question: Who Invented The Wireless Telephone and the "radio broadcasting"?

Question: What are some of the names used to describe the handheld "wireless telephone" that can receive and broadcast "radio waves"?


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October 9, 2002 

 Sony Plans to Invest in Palm's OS Unit

Computers: $20-million deal gives the consumer electronics firm a 6% stake and boosts the hand-held maker's plan to spin off the division.

Sony Corp. on Tuesday agreed
to invest $20 million in the Palm Inc. unit that makes the leading operating system for hand-held computers, boosting Palm's plans to split into two independent companies.

The deal gives Sony a 6% stake in PalmSource. The consumer electronics powerhouse is the first outside investor in the unit. Palm has been struggling amid lackluster demand for hand-helds, and Sony has a vested interest in sustaining the platform, which powers its line of Clie organizers.

For Milpitas, Calif.-based Palm, the relationship could bolster the audio and video capabilities of its operating system, which is under attack by Microsoft Corp.'s rival Pocket PC. Once the leader in hand-held organizers, Palm in the second quarter fell behind Hewlett-Packard Co., which uses Pocket PC.

"Sony has such a wonderful reputation for innovation, we could not have asked for a better partner or investor," PalmSource Chief Executive David Nagel said.

Sony has licensed Palm's operating system since 1999 and its Clie organizers have about 10% of the market. New Clie models record video, play music and browse the Internet with a wireless connection using Palm's latest software version, OS5.

PalmSource started seeking investors several months ago for its spinoff from Palm. Palm decided last year to split its hardware and operating systems businesses into independent companies to boost software sales to computer makers hesitant to license an operating system from a rival.

Sony's investment gives Palm more freedom to decide how it wants to conduct the spinoff, which it expects to complete early next year, Nagel said. Palm is leaning against an initial public offering because of the weak market.

The companies already have separated physically. PalmSource now operates from offices in Sunnyvale, Calif.

James Faucette, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities in Portland, Ore., said the Sony investment was not unexpected. Faucette said the expanded collaboration would help Sony develop products that interact with each other. Faucette has a neutral stance on Palm and doesn't own any of its shares.

Palm software also powers Handspring, Samsung and Kyocera "smart phones," which combine features of mobile phones and personal digital assistants.

Palm last week said it plans a 1-for-20 reverse stock split as it prepared for the spinoff. The company's stock will begin trading Oct. 15 on a reverse-split basis.

Palm shares rose 6 cents to 67 cents on Nasdaq. The shares have fallen 61% over the last year. Sony's American depositary receipts rose $1.15 to $41.48 on the New York Stock Exchange.



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Television With No Borders

Who Invented the Wireless Telephone:
Nathan B. Stubblefield, invented, demonstrated and patented the Wireless Telephone™ and related voice radio transmission apparatus in 1892, 1898 and1908 respectively. Marconi patented his Dit Dah spark telegraphy transmitter in 1897. Farnsworth the "f" in daaf, patented his television in 1930. See Patents Smart Daaf Boys,

Question: What's a Smart Phone and .... What are some of the other names used to describe the handheld "wireless telephone" that can receive and broadcast "radio waves"?

Paul Masson used to say he'd sell
no wine before its time.

-------Somebody should've given this advice to the makers of the first cell phone-organizer to incorporate Microsoft Corp.'s Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition.

------- Like a burgundy opened before its rough edges have mellowed, this handset is too young for store shelves.-------

------- Too bad, because the T-Mobile Pocket PC phone--offered in the United States by VoiceStream Wireless--is a great idea.

------- With the kinks worked out, I'm sure it'll make a fine, albeit expensive, choice for people like me who'd prefer to combine cell phone with personal organizer.

------- The $500 device contains the same features as the hand-held computers from Compaq or Toshiba, such as Microsoft's Outlook personal organizer and e-mail software, along with other offerings including MSN Messenger, Windows Media Player, Word and Excel.

------- But the gadget also sports a stubby antenna poking out of one end, used by the cell phone, which integrates with Outlook's contacts database.

------- That means that if you sync the device with your PC, not only do you get all your contacts' phone numbers and e-mail addresses, but you also can use the device to call or send e-mail without having to punch keys on the color touch screen.

------- A few other "communicators" or "smart phones" already have emerged, the best-known being Handspring Inc.'s Treo, which runs the Palm operating system. Nokia, Audiovox Corp. and Kyocera Corp. also sell such devices.

------- The T-Mobile (named after the wireless brand of VoiceStream's German parent Deutsche Telekom) is the first to hit the market that incorporates Microsoft's Pocket PC Phone Edition operating system. The Thera, from Audiovox, uses a Pocket PC version not specifically designed for wireless communicators.

------- On the T-Mobile hand-held, the Internet Explorer browser that languishes unused on most Pocket PC devices comes into its own.

------- I sat on my deck and surfed the BBC's Web site--the faster-loading text-only version--and was surprised at how quickly the stories popped up.

------- The phone also has SMS, or Short Message Service, which has been the rage in Europe for more than a year and is slowly catching on in the United States. It lets you fire off short messages to similarly equipped cell phones, even providing popular mobile phone one-liners such as "Where are you?"

------- Unfortunately for T-Mobile and Microsoft, the device failed to do these tasks about as often as it completed them.

------- The phone uses VoiceStream's GSM service, which in New York, anyway, suffers from reliability problems. The browser relies on VoiceStream's higher-speed GPRS network, theoretically able to download Web pages at a speed comparable to a home dial-up connection.

------- For me, only the BBC site operated smoothly. My connections to Yahoo, Hotmail, Salon.com and Amazon.com proved frustratingly slow.-------

Worse, it appears Microsoft hasn't gotten the phone functions fully integrated with its Pocket PC software.

------- After a few days of testing, Outlook's contacts database stopped working, blocking me from making calls or sending e-mail unless I could remember the number.

------- With so many features bundled into a gadget the size of a cigarette pack, I'm sure it's an enormous task to get them all working in harmony. And the problems with the cellular and wireless connectivity can't really be blamed on the device.

------- Still, I suspect many early buyers of the T-Mobile smart phone will treat it like a bottle of under-aged wine. They'll send it back.

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