3Com Device Offers Wireless Web Access

<i> From Bloomberg News</i>

3Com Corp. unveiled a new version of its PalmPilot handheld organizer that will let users check stock prices, read newspapers and get weather forecasts from the Internet with a wireless connection.

The new device, called the Palm VII, will be available next year and is expected to cost less than $800, 3Com said. Internet access for the device is expected to cost $10 a month.

3Com, the No. 2 computer networking company, is in a race with Microsoft Corp. in the market for handheld organizers, which maintain a person’s schedule, address book and to-do list. 3Com is adding features to the Palm device to try to stay ahead of Microsoft, which made a big push into the market this year.


Microsoft makes the software for its version of the devices. Casio Computer Co. and others make the hardware.

“We’re raising the bar,” said Greg Shirai, a spokesman for 3Com’s Palm Computing unit.

3Com is launching its own Internet service, called Palm.Net, that will get the Palm VII onto the Internet. Users will be able to set up the new service, start surfing the Web and get electronic mail minutes after unpacking the Palm VII, Santa Clara-based 3Com said.

3Com shares were unchanged at $42.88 on Nasdaq.

The device will use a new technology called “Web clipping” to get information from the Internet. Clipping is a means of getting just some information from a Web site so that all the graphics don’t clutter the Palm’s small screen.

Many companies have already made their sites available for Web clipping, including, BankAmerica Corp., USA Today, Travelocity, Visa International and Frommer’s, 3Com said.

The underlying wireless network for Palm.Net will be provided by BellSouth Corp., whose Intelligent Wireless Network covers 93 percent of the urban business population.

Lucent Technologies Inc. is making the communications chip for the Palm VII.

The Palm VII will have a built-in two-way radio and antenna, though it will remain about the same size as the Palm III, which is about 5 inches long, 3 inches wide and a half-inch thick.