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PalmSource answers pager maker's page

The handheld OS company announces a new licensee, pager maker PerComm, and launches a developer program with Sprint as a charter member.

LAS VEGAS--PalmSource announced on Monday that pager maker PerComm will license the Palm operating system.

PerComm Chief Executive Edmond Fung said at the Comdex trade show here that he views the Palm OS as a flexible application that lets his company quickly release new devices.

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"We see the Palm OS allowing us to produce (lower-cost) devices and have faster time to market," Fung said.

PerComm intends to produce a smart phone that uses the Palm OS first for Global System for Mobile Communications and then for Code Division Multiple Access networks. The company also plans to manufacture a device to use the two-way ReFlex pager network.

PerComm is not the first pager company to take advantage of the operating system. Rival HuneTec announced plans early this year to use the Palm OS in a line of pager and messaging devices. However, the company has yet to release a device.

Separately, PalmSource announced a new program, called Palm Powered MobileWorld, which is focused on connecting developers with wireless carriers and other infrastructure providers.

The next version of the Palm operating system, code-named Sahara, will emphasize wireless capabilities and will be available to developers Dec. 29. The operating system will continue to be marketed alongside the current OS 5, with OS 6 aimed at higher-end devices.

PalmSource said Sprint PCS is the first partner to participate in the program. Other companies, such as WideRay, Pumatech, Good Technology, Visto and Research In Motion, also have joined the program.

PalmSource Chief Executive David Nagel said the purpose of the group is to enable carriers to influence the development of the Palm OS as well as connect them with developers.

The Palm OS powers more than 30 million devices and remains the leader in the market for handheld computers, despite increasing competition from Microsoft's Pocket PC and smart-phone makers.

CNET's Richard Shim contributed to this report.