Culture

Palm has music on its mind

A host of new features may be available for the Palm in 2001, a company executive says, but not if they compromise the platform's elegance and simplicity.

SANTA CLARA, Calif.--A host of new features may be available for the Palm in 2001, a company executive said, but not if they compromise the platform's elegance and simplicity.

In a speech at the PalmSource developers conference Wednesday, Palm's vice president of product planning and strategy, Michael Mace, said third-party providers were working on MP3 playback capabilities, enhanced multimedia and higher-resolution screens.

The trick will be adding new features for some Palm users without forcing the features onto people who don't want them, Mace said.

"Only 15 percent of Palm users want an integrated MP3 player," Mace said. "Why force them on (the other 85 percent)?"

Mace's remark alluded to Microsoft's Pocket PC platform, which adds an MP3 player and Web browser, plus word processing and spreadsheet applications, to every device.

Adding so many applications could interfere with Palm's elegant, simple interface, Mace said.

Palm's licensee and partner, Handspring, already offers MP3 players for its Visor personal digital assistants, which use Springboard modules to provide expandability.

Currently, there is an MP3 player available for the Palm: PocketPyro's $299 Pyro connects to the bottom of any Palm device. The Pyro, which uses SD memory cards, can also be detached for use as an independent player.

Two other Palm players also are on the way: the M100-compatible Porta-Sound and the Palm V-compatible tsunamidi, both from i-Vox.

In his remarks, Mace discounted mounting competition from cell phone manufacturers and PC makers.

Currently available cell phone models can't compete with Palm devices, he said. They either have too many features or not enough. And PC manufacturers are trying to shoehorn bigger computers onto small devices.

Although he was not specific, Mace said the Palm of the future may include second-generation smart phones, clip-on and integrated wireless devices, Bluetooth integration and email notification.

"The cool thing (about the Palm platform) is that it's still incomplete," Mace said.