Japan's Mitsubishi Electric is teaming up with Integrated Systems (ISI) to develop a new operating system for handheld devices that could threaten 3Com’s Palmpilot and Microsoft’s Windows CE.
The two unveiled a hardware reference platform on Tuesday to enable OEMs to build a new generic handheld device called the WebPDA - a personal digital assistant designed by ISI, Mitsubishi and Sun Microsystems.
But the US based embedded operating system (OS) supplier has also convinced Mitsubishi to expand the WebPDA reference design to become a full blown realtime system, which will be made available to other companies. ISI also plans to release half a dozen other customisable reference designs for Internet appliances.
Chuck Boesenberg, ISI’s president and chief executive, said: "ISI is committed to offering a complete spectrum of end to end Internet enabling capabilities. The idea is to give OEMs the necessary hardware and software building blocks to quickly develop and deliver a range of devices."
He added that final WebPDA specifications would be available by October and he expects devices to be commercially available by the middle of next year.
WebPDA is based on Mitsubishi’s M32R processor and will run ISI’s pSOS+ OS and other software components. It also includes Sun's Personaljava, ANT’s email and Web browser, Espial Group’s Java based personal information management software, and Pointbase’s data management software.
The device comes in a plastic case created by ISI subsidiary, Doctor Design, and looks like a Windows CE Palmsize PC.
IDC predicts that the number of information appliances shipped will grow at an annual growth rate of 76 per cent to more than 55.7 million in 2002, from 5.9 million in 1998 and 3 million in 1997.
Microsoft was unavailable for comment at press time.
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