Palm ships Bluetooth, allies with Sony Ericsson

An expansion card that adds Bluetooth wireless networking capability to a Palm PDA (personal digital assistant) is now widely available, Palm said Tuesday.

The postage-stamp-size SD (Secure Digital) card fits in the expansion slot of many Palm handhelds and has an estimated street price of US$129, Palm said in a statement issued at the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) event in Orlando.

Bluetooth is a specification for radio-based wireless links among devices. The specification is developed, published and promoted by the Bluetooth SIG (special interest group) Inc., a trade association comprised of many vendors. Backers of the technology had expected it to reach critical mass by now, but support by hardware makers remains limited.

In an effort to push usage of Bluetooth, Palm, based in Santa Clara, California, announced a marketing alliance with London-based Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB. U.S. mobile phone operators, Cingular Wireless LLC being the first, will bundle Palm Bluetooth products with Sony Ericsson's T68i mobile phone, according to Palm.

The Bluetooth expansion card was first announced at the Bluetooth Congress in Monaco in June last year, when Palm said it would be available before the end of 2001. Palm last month said the card would be in stores on March 4, but picked the CTIA show this week to announce availability.

A Palm PDA with the card can exchange data with other Bluetooth-enabled devices, for example cell phones and printers, within a 30-foot range (10 meters). A user could access the Internet with the phone still in his pocket, dial phone numbers from the PDA, or wirelessly print on a Bluetooth-enabled printer from the handheld device, Palm said.

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