PalmSource Updates Handheld Device Software
Tue Feb 10,12:26 PM ET Add Technology - Reuters to My Yahoo!

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Software developer PalmSource Inc.(Nasdaq:PSRC - news) on Tuesday unveiled an updated version of its operating system designed for mobile telephones, in hopes of extending to a much larger market its success with pocket computers.

PalmSource, of Sunnyvale, California, introduced Palm OS Cobalt, which it said will help add advanced computer and personal information features to mobile phones.

A cadre of companies, including Microsoft Corp.(Nasdaq:MSFT - news). Nokia (news - web sites) (NOK1V.HE), PalmSource, Research In Motion Ltd.(Toronto:RIM.TO - news) and Good Technology, are battling to develop secure, powerful software that will let wireless devices access data such as e-mail, inventory and contacts, as well as play music and make regular calls.

Those devices, known as "smartphones," are seen dominating sales of handheld devices in coming years, dwarfing demand for "un-wired" handheld computers like those made popular by the former Palm Inc. Last year, PalmSource was spun off from Palm.

"Smartphones are the category that is on everyone's mind," said David Nagel, president and chief executive of PalmSource, noting that the handheld computer market is around 10 million units a year, while the total wireless phone market is around 450 million units per year.

"If you assume that at some time in the future, phones will mostly be smartphones, that's an enormous new market for people like ourselves to go after," he said.

The new push reflects something of a marketing shift for PalmSource, the dominant provider of handheld operating system software, whose products are the brains behind pocket computers made by companies such as Samsung Corp. (000830.KS), palmOne Inc.(Nasdaq:PLMO - news) and Sony Corp (news - web sites).(6758.T)(NYSE:SNE - news)

In fact, PalmSource said Cobalt was previously named Palm OS 6. It also relaunched Palm OS 5, which will now be called Palm OS Garnet, adding some advanced features. PalmSource will continue to support both Garnet and Cobalt.