Microsoft was immediately threatened with a new lawsuit as it announced its first palmtop computer system, this time from rival 3Com. But European rivals reacted less violently to the new challenge.
The Palm PC, the latest addition to Microsoft's PC Companion line of products, debuted at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas last week, But Microsoft is being accused of possible trademark infringement by network giant 3Com, which claims the Palm PC bears a name that is too close to its own hugely popular Palm Pilot.
?One of the things we find quite contemptuous is the naming scheme they?ve decided to use,? said, Ed Colligan, vice president of marketing for the palm computing group at 3Com. ?We think it is unacceptable and are considering legal action.?
Some distributors saw 3Com's action as a hasty spoiling tactic. ?This is not good news for 3Com,? said Nigel Parry, managing director of UK distributor Portable Add Ons. ?Though the format for the Palm PC is inspired by the Palm Pilot, Microsoft can argue that the CE operating system is vastly different, and being Windows compatible, the Palm PC offers a real corporate angle. This is something that the Palm Pilot didn?t really offer.?
But European market leader in this market, Psion, remained unfazed by the presence of Microsoft in the market. A spokesperson said the company did not expect the Palm PC to create huge waves.
?Psion comes from a slightly different perspective in that it can be fully integrated with a PC. Comparing the Palm PC with the Psion Series 5 is like comparing a bicycle with a moped - both have the frame and wheels, but only the Psion has an engine that can take you where you really want to go,? he said.
According to Microsoft, the Palm PC, powered by the Windows CE 2.0 operating system, will enable users to carry their vital desktop information, Internet and Intranet information in one pocket sized device with a one-handed operation.
Seven hardware manufacturers, including Casio, LG Electronics and Philips pledged their support for the platform.
Microsoft plans to ship the Palm PC software to OEMs in the US in the first quarter of 1998. It will also be launched throughout Europe in due course, though a spokesperson for Microsoft UK could not confirm any further details.
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