Vendors to make Bluetooth connectivity simple

Palmsource, the operating system arm of Palm Inc., and BVRP Software Group, a mobile middleware software vendor, announced at the CTIA conference solutions that will make Bluetooth devices simpler for the end-user to operate.

It appears that lost in the hype surrounding the benefits of Bluetooth was the reality that configuring a Bluetooth-enabled notebook or handheld to work with a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone behaving as if it were a modem required at least a degree in computer science.

"The user needs to install and configure drivers to make the phone look like an Internet device; otherwise the OS won't know how to handle it. The phone also needs to be set up to act as a modem," said Bob Lang, president of BVRP Software in Westminster, Colo.

BVRP unveiled at the conference its Mobile PhoneTools software that when installed on a notebook will allow users to click on the PhoneTools connectivity Wizard that simplifies the process to set up the phone to be used as modem to one click, said Lang.

Palmsource made a similar Bluetooth interoperability announcement, confining itself, however, to Sony/Ericsson phones and any Palm OS device using Bluetooth.

According to Albert Chu at Palmsource, the Bluetooth spec was purposely left broad enough so that vendors could differentiate their solutions. However, this also meant that each implementation is different enough that each device has its own unique way of connecting, and the vendors will have to tackle that issue one device at a time.

The Palmsource solution, which will be available by the first quarter, hopes to create an "out-of-the-box compatibility between the two companies' devices," said Albert Chu, vice president of business development at Palmsource in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Chu also said that without such software, configuring a cell phone as modem to work with a handheld is a daunting task.

BVRP's Mobile PhoneTools is available now and will be distributed through deals with carriers, through retail at US$59.99, or licensed with volume discounts to enterprise-level customers.

BVRP's Lang also said that each device must be configured separately, but that Mobile PhoneTools already has been configured to work with more than 500 handsets.

One industry analyst said that there are many problems with wireless connections, but at least BVRP is taking care of its slice of the market.

"There are 50 million laptops in the world today. Designing a Bluetooth solution is low-hanging fruit, and to use a wizard is something laptop users are used to," said Isacc Ro, a mobile analyst at Aberdeen Group Inc. in Boston.

Both the BVRP and Palmsource solutions are targeted at the 2.5G and 3G market.

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