Internet giant Yahoo! has announced that wireless versions of its email 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 mobile 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 Palm users will now be able to send, receive and delete email from their Yahoo! accounts 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 synchronise it with their online accounts using the Palm HotSync feature, Yahoo! said.
The news today builds on an existing partnership between the two companies. Palm users can already download such Yahoo! applications as email, an address book and a 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 the response to the program in the first quarter exceeded Palm's expectations for the entire year.
Palm also announced wireless versions of its auction, directory and registration services that can be accessed via mobile phones and handheld computers that support WAP (wireless application protocol).