Is the tide turning Microsoft's way? The company recently scored a coup on its PDA rivals when Palm stalwart DDH Software, maker of the HanDBase database software and producer of the MemoWare ebook site, announced that it would now also be supporting the PocketPC. Meanwhile, newly released figures suggest that the PocketPC is eating away at Palm's dominance in Europe, although Microsoft still has a long way to go before it can claim a dominant position.
HanDBase is one of the most popular applications for Palm, offering the ability for users to create custom databases for their PDAs as well as download over 700 free predesigned databases hosted at DDH's site. MemoWare provides a library of over 5,700 eBook and reference titles, including titles focused on computing, business, and communications. The PocketPC version of HandDBase retails at $24.99, the same as its Palm counterpart.
"We chose to offer applications for the Pocket PC platform because customer demand for that support grows stronger by the day," said Dave Haupert, president of DDH Software. "With an inherently large memory ranging from 16 megs to 32 megs, as well as the option to expand memory up to 1 gig, the amount of data our customers can take wherever they go is now virtually limitless."
Microsoft says DDH is not the only PDA developer moving to support PocketPC. It claims that developers are flocking to the Pocket PC platform at the rate of 30,000 over the last three months, while more than 95,000 developers now have the Pocket PC software development kit.
Meanwhile, PocketPC based PDAs last year gained ground rapidly in European sales against rival Palm, according to UK market research firm Context. It estimates that by December, Palm's market share had dropped slightly to 55 per cent, from 59 per cent in January. What is noteworthy, however, is that Hewlett-Packard and Compaq, the two largest manufacturers of Pocket PC devices, jumped to 31 per cent of the market, up from a combined 18 per cent at the start of the year.
Context's numbers are based on interviews and surveys of distributors and resellers in seven European countries. The survey considered both business and consumer sales, but not direct sales.
Sony adds multimedia to its CLIE
Sony has launched a multimedia version of its Palm-based PDA, the CLIE, with audio playback, an improved colour screen and longer battery life. Europeans will have to wait before they can buy one, however: at the moment, Sony says it only plans to launch the upgraded model in Japan.
The new model, the PEG-N700C, will be based on the Palm OS 3.5. It includes a 320 x 320 colour TFT display, 8Mb of RAM, and the 33Mhz Dragonball VZ CPU. The rechargeable battery can provide power for up to 11 hours of music playback, or 15 days of normal use, say Sony.
Bundled software includes the colour web browser Palmscape, a Sony-developed audio player supporting ATRAC 3 rather than MP3, and software for playing video files.
Compaq doubles iPAQ's memory
Compaq has confirmed this week what has been widely rumoured on PDA newsgroups - that it would be launching a 64Mb version of its IPAQ PocketPC. It also announced a second model, the H3635 - effectively a standard 32Mb IPAQ with a Compact Flash jacket - as well as a dual PC Card expansion pack. The 64Mb H3670, which uses the same Intel StrongARM 206Mhz microprocessor as its 32Mb counterpart, will be available from next month, while the H3635 is said to already be available.
The Dual PC Card Expansion Pack, which is expected to cost £120 and also be available next month, holds two Type II cards or one Type III PC card, allowing users to perform simultaneous operations, such as using a PC Card modem or barcode scanner and a storage card, or accessing a wireless local or wide area network while using an input/output device. It also includes a CF adapter that allows for the use of CF cards or CF devices.
Transmeta moves on mobile Linux
Transmeta, the employer of Linux founder Linus Torvalds and maker of the low-power Crusoe chip, has launched its version of Linux for mobile devices. Called Midori, it is said to include support for power management hardware, including Crusoe, as well as flash memory support and the ability to run Netscape for Linux. Devices using the software are thin on the ground, however, although products using Midori will be unveiled next week at the Cebit computer show in Germany, said Transmeta.
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Handspring has launched a high-end 'thin and light' version of its Visor PDA that features a new removable expansion slot. Called Visor Edge, the device weighs just 4.8 ounces, offers 8Mb of memory and is based on Motorola's 33Mhz DragonBall VZ processor. The metal case comes in silver, blue or red and includes a flip-up metal cover.
DOWNLOAD: Launch 'Em 2
Launch 'Em 2 is designed to replace the built-in applications launcher of the Palm, and offers a little more functionality. Instead of using pull-down menus to access different areas of the launcher (i.e. Games, System, Essential etc), Launch 'Em uses tabs that can be placed anywhere on the screen that suits you. Upon installation, Launch 'Em shows three tabs: Applications, Utilities and Games. However, these can be modified and new tabs can be added to suit your individual needs. Icons can then be moved from one tab to another simply by dragging them onto the appropriate tab.
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Despite Microsoft launching the PocketPC packed with applications that make this possible, Palm has been slow to respond with an official internet pack for its platform. Finally, the wait is over with the launch of the Mobile Internet Kit (MIK), which gives email and web surfing abilities to the Palm.
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