Palm Partners with Auto Suppliers on Messaging

NEW YORK (04/18/2000) - Silicon Valley is meeting the Motor City this week at the International Auto Show here, with automakers and high tech companies joining forces to offer business users uninterrupted access to information.

Palm Inc. announced Tuesday a deal with Delphi Automotive Systems Inc. to create an in-vehicle Palm V docking station for sending and receiving emails, synchronizing calendars and corporate databases using voice commands.

The CommuniPort Mobile Productivity Center, shown only as a prototype, will plug into the cigarette lighter port and use a form factor with a circular bottom that fits into a car's cup holder.

Delphi will add voice commands to Palm's HotSync technology for updating data sans wires over the cellular network. This will also include using text to speech and speech to text to download and read e-mails as well as sending e-mails.

Palm becomes the latest in a string of high technology companies working with traditional automotive industry players to offer products and services for drivers. IBM, Sun, and Microsoft are also deeply involved with the major auto manufacturers.

According to officials at Palm and Delphi, the CommuniPort will be the first of numerous content delivery-based services offered by the new alliance.

The Mobile Productivity Center is a Delphi product which Palm will use to extend the capabilities of Palm.net for the automotive environments.

Upon shipping users will be able to access news, weather, sports, financial information, e-mail, and Web access through Palm's Palm.net service.

Palm.net also offers 200 Web-clip applications for the Palm VII which will now be available for Palm V in autos.

Currently there are business applications using the Palm VII that will now be extended to use in cars. For example, field service representatives for a company closing out an on-site sale will be able to close out the sale using verbal commands while driving to the next appointment, according to Gregg Fiddes, director of business develoment for Palm's Wireless Internet Solutions division.

"A pharmaceutical sales rep could check what they last sold to a doctor before they get to the appointment," added Fiddes.

The Delphi/Palm CommuniPort will ship by the end of the year. Pricing has not yet been set.

Palm Inc., in Santa Clara, California, can be reached at www.palm.com. Delphi Automotive Systems Inc., in Troy, Michigan is at www.delphiauto.com.

InfoWorld Editor at Large Ephraim Schwartz is based in San Francisco.

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