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IBM launches new handheld PC

IBM announces a new handheld device, called the WorkPad, based on 3Com's PalmPilot technology.

    IBM (IBM) has announced a new handheld device based on the PalmPilot technology.

    As previously reported on September 17 by CNET's NEWS.COM, IBM has licensed the design for the PalmPilot handheld information manager from 3Com (COMS) and will market the device as the WorkPad.

    Like the PalmPilot, the WorkPad will allow users to store, organize, and retrieve information while they are away from their desktop computers. The device weighs six ounces, has 1MB of storage capacity, and contains software for synchronizing the WorkPad and PCs. The new handheld is priced at $399.

    "Basically, this gets the product into the corporate market. It's a pretty good move [because] 3Com now has inroads to corporate accounts," after enjoying success in the retail channel, says Diana Huang, analyst for International Data Corporation (IDC).

    Worldwide sales of "smart" handheld devices are expected to reach 6 million units in 1998, according to a recent forecast from IDC, but the WorkPad and PalmPilot will face increased competition down the road.

    Microsoft is developing a version of Windows CE that will work in so-called wallet PCs, similar in size and function to the PalmPilot, by early 1998, according to IDC. These devices are expected to have the functions of the traditional organizers but will include communications capabilities and possibly voice recognition capabilities as well.