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The week in review: It's a Palm world, after all

Palm Computing, maker of the various PalmPilots, hooks up with Nokia and will give the Finnish hardware maker a license to thrill the handheld world.

The song I Wanna Hold Your Handheld was top of the charts this week, with a bullet.

Palm Computing, maker of the various PalmPilots, hooked up with Nokia and will give the Finnish hardware maker a license to thrill the handheld world.

Meanwhile, TRG will unveil its first handheld on Monday, the second firm to launch a device based on Palm software in as many months and the first to specifically target the business user.

The introduction of the new TRGpro and the Nokia deal are Palm's latest moves to cement its market dominance by aggressively licensing its operating system and application software. TRG will show off the device at the PalmSource developer's conference in Santa Clara, California, a confab that is rising in importance.

Microsoft also stepped up the hand-to-hand combat this week, strongly defending its Windows CE operating system, which is used in handhelds and other devices.

Market jitters could hurt next week's IPOs
With the stock market suffering a horrendous week, the prospects are clouded for several IPOs on tap for next week.

"We had about 15 deals that were expected to go this week, but only nine went out because of a jittery market," said Kathleen Smith, portfolio manager with Renaissance Capital's IPO Fund. "We have a lot of deals that are now pushed out for next week. But we'll have to see how many of the 23 will go, since the market could only absorb 9 this week."

Investors, who watched nervously as the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost about 600 points this week, will be keeping a keen eye on how next week's deals get priced. One ominous note: Several of this week's IPOs are trading at or below their offering prices.

Traveling circus
Speaking of Microsoft, Priceline sued the software giant this week over a new "name your price" service that Microsoft introduced recently on its Expedia travel site.

Filed in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, the suit alleges that Expedia's new "Hotel Price Matcher" service violates Priceline's patents on its business model. Priceline said in a statement that it is seeking a restraining order against Microsoft, along with actual and punitive damages.

"Priceline.com invested years of time and money to develop a successful business model and build a patent portfolio around it," Priceline chief executive Richard S. Braddock said in a statement. "Millions of consumers have benefited from Priceline.com's innovation and investment."

Microsoft spokesman Tom Pilla said the company had not yet received a copy of the complaint, but said that Microsoft respects other companies' intellectual property. Microsoft was confident that it would prevail in the dispute, he said.

"This is a transparent attempt by Priceline to slow us down and avoid competing with Expedia on the merits," Pilla said.

Ridder's on the storm
Knight Ridder, the nation's second-largest newspaper publisher, is considering a restructuring of its Internet business--largely to benefit from the hefty premiums that Wall Street is attaching to Net properties, CNET News.com learned this week.

One plan calls for combining Knight Ridder's new media businesses--from its new media arm and newspaper holdings--into a separate business line, so it can take advantage of these valuations and better compete against other Internet companies, sources said. The plan is being actively pursued internally, both in meetings and in memorandums.

If it goes forward, Knight Ridder would join other media companies, including the New York Times Company, Forbes, and Time Warner, in exploring these options. The rapid growth of the Internet has forced established media companies to rethink their business plans, both to expand and to keep start-ups from eroding their circulation and revenue base.

Apple turnover
Apple is partially reversing its decision to hike prices on its G4 computers, the company said late this week.

Apple said that customers who had placed orders directly with Apple for G4 Macintosh computers prior to Wednesday would receive their computers at previously announced prices.

However, Apple may not win for losing: The move is likely to rankle customers who ordered systems through third-party resellers, because they don't qualify for the lower, original prices.

During Apple's earnings call on Wednesday, the company said that in order to meet demand for the computers, it would ship all G4 computers with slower chips but not lower the prices. Effectively, this imposed a price hike. Apple also canceled all existing orders.

For instance, an Apple Store customer who ordered a 450-MHz system for $2,499 would have had to reorder a 450-MHz system and pay $350 more. That move irked a number of customers.