PalmSource, Access tie on browser technology

Japanese software company Access Co. Ltd. has concluded a multiyear deal with PalmSource Inc. that will make its NetFront 3.0 browser the default Web browser technology in Palm OS 5.

The partnership with PalmSource will also see the two companies work to ensure integration of NetFront with future versions of Palm OS, a spokesperson for Access' U.S. PR agency wrote in an e-mail.

The latest NetFront browser includes many features not currently found on competing products, such as support for HTML 4.0, xHTML, Compact HTML, WML 2.0, CSS1 and CSS2 style sheets, HTTP 1.1 and WAP 2.0 stacks, Javascript, TCP/IP and IPv4 and IPv6 protocol stacks, and SSL3 and TLS1 with 128-bit encryption. Plug-ins that add support for playing MP3 audio files, MPEG4 video and a Java Virtual Machine are also available, according to an Access white paper.

Access is best known for its Compact NetFront browser, which is built into every I-mode cellular handset sold in Japan by NTT DoCoMo Inc. and also handsets sold by NEC Corp. for overseas versions of the I-mode service. The company's embedded browsers can also be found in 150 commercial products including digital televisions, set-top boxes, game consoles and car navigation systems, the spokesperson said.

The deal with Palm is part of a focus the company has recently put on the PDA market and follows a similar tie-up with Sharp Corp. announced in May. That deal will see NetFront become the default browser on Sharp's range of wireless PDAs. Also this year, the company has released versions of NetFront browser for the Symbian and Pocket PC platforms. The Pocket PC version can be downloaded free from Access' Web site.

A formal announcement of the deal with PalmSource is expected next week, an Access spokeswoman in Tokyo said.

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Martyn Williams

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