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Simulation game seeks armchair CEOs

A company that develops business simulations has created a game called "PDA Sim" that lets people pretend they're the CEO of a handheld maker in the midst of a price war.

Wanted: CEO to manage handheld maker amid brutal price war.

It's not a job ad from the back of today's newspaper. It's an invitation to armchair CEOs who believe they can do a better job of managing, for example, handheld giant Palm.

Forio Business Simulations has posted to its Web site a free game called "PDA Sim," in which someone tries to manage a fictitious handheld maker amid intense competition.

Forio, a two-person company formed two months ago, has created the game as a chance to show off the types of simulations it creates. While the company's paying work has been to develop simulations for other industries such as the fast-food or toy businesses, Forio's Will Glass-Husain said the handheld market could be a better sell.

"Lots of people have PalmPilots," Glass-Husain said.

Their game is simple: Manage the handheld maker through four years and several product transitions by setting prices, allocating research budgets and knowing when to discontinue older products.

Although the game may not rival "Sim City" for fun or retail sales, it is a chance for those dismayed by Palm's recent performance to try their hand.

Although retail problems may be new for Palm, Glass-Husein said the current price battle in the handheld market is a textbook case of competition at work.

"It's something that has happened in a number of industries."