January 8, 2003 3:40 PM PST

Garmin locates its Palm OS handheld

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LAS VEGAS--Navigation company Garmin is no longer trying to locate the position of its Palm OS handheld.

A Palm licensee for about two years, Garmin announced Wednesday that it would begin selling a Palm OS 5-based handheld in the second quarter of 2003. The iQue 3600, which will sell for $589, will come with navigation software and a built-in global positioning system antenna allowing consumers to locate and map their position and navigate to addresses or points of interest.

The device also comes with an MP3 player, voice recorder and a color screen with a resolution of 320-by-480 pixels that can display more than 60,000 colors. The iQue 3600 will come with 32MB of memory, a Secure Digital slot and a Motorola DragonBall MXL ARM 9 processor. The clock speed of the processor is still being determined, according the company, which demonstrated a prototype at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Garmin is also looking to license its navigation software to other Palm OS licensees in the coming months to help grow the market for handhelds and GPS devices, said Jon Cassat, the director of marketing communications at Garmin.

Cassat said the company could have gone with any other operating system but the large community of developers was especially appealing. Garmin is set to make a software developer kit available to Palm developers but has not set a release date.

Including Garmin, PalmSource, a subsidiary of handheld maker Palm and developer of the OS, there are 14 licensees of the Palm OS. Handheld OS rival Microsoft has about 30 licensees of its handheld operating system, Pocket PC 2002.


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"Our goal is not to create another clone industry," said PalmSource Chief Executive David Nagel. "We want to sign up licensees whose expertise meets specific consumer interests."

The Palm OS holds the top spot in handheld market share but the Pocket PC OS is gaining momentum as manufacturers recently have been lowering the price of their devices.

As PalmSource approaches a spinoff in the first half of the year, it has been signing new licensees, most recently Korea's HuneTec and China's Legend Group and Group Sense.

Palm received word Monday from the Internal Revenue Service that the federal government will not tax a distribution of PalmSource shares to Palm investors. The companies expect to complete the spinoff in the first half of 2003, pending approval from the Palm board of directors and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

 

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