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HolidayBuyer's Guide
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Amazon goes anywhere with wireless pact

Using 3Com's new Palm VII handheld wireless computer, Amazon customers will be able to buy items from any of the company's five stores, as well as monitor auctions from the company's auction site.

Beginning today, Amazon.com customers won't have to be in front of their computers in order to purchase a book or CD from the online shopping site.

Palm VII Using 3Com's new Palm VII handheld wireless computer, Amazon customers will be able to buy items from any of the company's five stores, as well as monitor auctions from the company's auction site. Palm VII customers will need to download a program from Amazon or Palm.Net to begin shopping at the leading e-commerce site. The service goes online today as 3Com begins to sell the Palm VII and its Internet service nationwide.

The announcement comes less than a week after Amazon announced that it would allow other merchants to set up shop on its site, and with the holiday shopping season fast approaching. Amazon spokesman Paul Capelli said the company was trying to make it easy for customers to be able to buy products from its site.

"Not only can you find anything on Amazon, but you can access it from anywhere," Capelli said.

Capelli said enabling Palm VII users to access its site was the first step toward allowing customers to purchase items on Amazon from anywhere they want. In the near future, the company plans to allow customers to access its stores via Internet-enabled mobile phones and other wireless handheld devices, Capelli said.

As part of that initiative, Capelli said the company in August purchased Atlanta-based Convergence Corporation for $20 million in stock. Convergence is developing products and applications that allow wireless e-commerce access, Capelli said, adding that 10 of the company's employees will be moving to Amazon's Seattle headquarters.

Palm VII users can conduct other transactions through the wireless device as well. eBay customers can use the device to monitor auctions and bid on items, and Fidelity Investments customers can use it to trade stocks and get stock quotes.

Consumers can also use the Palm VII to reach various e-commerce sites, including Bank of America, HomeBanking, E*Trade, and mySimon. However, for the time being, many of these sites will only provide content and will not allow users to conduct transactions.

Although the Palm VII connects to the Internet, customers will not be able to use it to directly access the Web. Instead, sites provide information in Palm's proprietary Web clipping format that makes the information easier to download and display on the handheld computer.