Yahoo announced yesterday that wireless versions of its e-mail and instant-messaging applications will come preinstalled on Palm's handheld computers beginning later this year.
Yahoo said the agreement marks the first time it has bundled its Web-based services with handheld computers. Like its rivals America Online and Microsoft's Microsoft Network (MSN), Yahoo is working hard to make its services accessible from non-PC devices such as cell phones and PDAs.
The portal company said its Yahoo Messenger and Yahoo Mail services will be bundled with all current models of the Palm III, Palm V and Palm VII. Palm VII users also have the option to download Yahoo Mail today, from http://www.palm.net/ or from http://www.mobile.yahoo.com/.
The deal means that Palm users will now be able to send, receive and delete email from their Yahoo accounts while they're away from their PCs. Yahoo Messenger will allow users to instantly exchange short text messages among friends and colleagues, Yahoo officials said.
The Palm VII comes equipped with a wireless modem for Internet access; Palm III and Palm V users must buy a modem accessory to get to the Web. They could also read and edit their mail offline and synchronize it with their online accounts using the Palm HotSync feature, Yahoo officials said.
The news today builds on an existing partnership between the two companies. Palm users can already download such Yahoo applications as e-mail, an address book and calendar, but this marks the first time Yahoo's applications will be preinstalled on the Palm.
Yahoo hopes soon to release a version of Yahoo Messenger that will run on mobile phones, but porting the application to phones is more difficult than porting it to Palm or Windows CE-based devices, Mohan Vishwanath, vice president of Yahoo's Yahoo Everywhere initiative, said Monday in an interview.
"We take quite a cautious approach at Yahoo," he said. "We like to know an application really works well before we let people start using it."
Yahoo won't say how many mobile users have registered for its service since it launched the Yahoo Everywhere division last June, although Vishwanath claimed that the response to the program in the first quarter exceeded Palm's expectations for the entire year.
Just yesterday Palm announced wireless versions of its auction, directory and registration services that can be accessed via mobile phones and handheld computers that support Wireless Application Protocol (WAP).