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Palm bites into Bluetooth

The PDA maker announces that by the end of the year a secure digital card supporting the Bluetooth wireless technology will be available for around $150.

Palm's expansion slot will cut its teeth on Bluetooth.

The PDA (personal digital assistant) maker announced Thursday that by the end of the year a secure digital card supporting Bluetooth, the Palm Bluetooth Card, will be available for around $150. The card, about the size of a postage stamp, will fit only into Palm's latest PDAs, the m500 and m505.

The m500 and m505 are the first PDAs from Palm to have an expansion slot. The company's Bluetooth card is likely to be among the first generation of cards available for the slot.

The industry buzz surrounding Bluetooth has ebbed recently as manufacturers have been slow to bring products using the wireless technology to market. Palm's support should help to once again lift the tides for Bluetooth.

Palm will also build support for Bluetooth into an updated version of its operating system due out by the end of the year.

Bluetooth is a wireless networking technology that allows devices in a 30-foot range to transmit data between one another. The technology is designed for mobile devices such as cell phones, PDAs and mobile computers.

With the Bluetooth card, Palm owners could use their PDAs and cell phone to wirelessly dial up the Internet, print documents from their PDAs and synchronize with a PC without having to set the PDA into a cradle.

Palm is also working with Bluetooth developers to create other products that can be used with the Bluetooth card when it becomes available.

Although the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company has had its problems of late, it remains the market-share leader in PDAs shipped as well as the market leader in the handheld OS market. Its licensees are also among the leaders in the PDA business and include Handspring and Sony. Devices from both of those companies also have expansion slots that can accommodate Bluetooth add-on cards.

The Bluetooth card announced by Palm was jointly developed with Toshiba, one of the key members of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, which also includes 3Com, Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Lucent Technologies, Microsoft, Motorola and Nokia.