Adobe releases Acrobat reader for Palm OS

Adobe released a beta version of the PDF (Portable Document Format) file reader for Palm OS in April. With the new version of the Acrobat Reader, users can view text and images in the PDF file format on PDAs (personal digital assistants) that run the Palm OS, including devices made by Palm, Handspring and Sony. The new Acrobat Reader adapts PDF files for viewing on a small screen, Adobe said in a statement.

Acrobat Reader for Palm OS comprises two components: a desktop application which runs on the Windows platform, used for preparing PDF files for the Palm OS and synchronising them with the user's handheld device, and a reader which runs on the handheld device, designed to work well on small-screen devices.

The desktop application runs on Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows ME and Windows 2000. Users must have Palm Desktop 3.0.1 or higher, or devices with Palm OS 3.1 or higher, Adobe said. Support for creation and transfer of PDFs from computers running Apple's Mac OS is planned in future versions of Acrobat Reader for Palm OS, although Adobe would not say when these would be available.

Tuesday's release offers users of Palm OS-based handheld devices something the Palm platform previously lacked: a rival to Microsoft's Reader software, installed on devices using its Pocket PC platform. Electronic books and manuals are commonly distributed in the two rival formats.

According to one analyst, PDAs are still not attractive enough for corporate customers. So far, the trend seems to be for private customers to buy PDAs in retail outlets and bring them into the work place, said Thomas Reuner, an analyst at Dataquest.

However, Adobe's new release is "a step forward in making PDAs mainstream corporate devices," Reuner said.

According to Reuner, the PDA market has yet to mature. One problem companies are facing is choosing between PDAs and smart phones, he added.

"Corporate customers are waiting to see which type of device will win, smart phones or PDAs," Reuner said. A smart phone is a mobile phone with data communication capabilities such as paging, e-mail and fax.

In addition, companies need to see better software in the PDAs, according to Reuner.

"Customers want to be able to download corporate data on the road, wirelessly, without having to synchronise," with a desktop, he said. "An IT manager also needs software, like for example Microsoft Office suite" in the PDA if he is going to use it in the corporation, he added.

The Acrobat Reader for Palm OS is available immediately and can be downloaded from http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readerforpalm.html

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