In what could be an indirect hit to Palm Inc., Sprint Corp. Monday announced that it is licensing the Blazer Web browser from Handspring Inc.
Besides being bundled with Sprint products that use the Palm OS, the Blazer browser software will be available as a free download to existing Sprint customers. Previously, Blazer was available only for Handspring handhelds and the add-on modules that supported them.
Initially, the browser will be available for the QCP-6035 Sprint PCS Phone, which is manufactured by Kyocera International Inc., as well as any of the Sprint Palm Connectivity and Adapter Kits for the Palm III or Palm V. It also will be included with Samsungs Palm Powered SPH-1300 Sprint PCS Phone and the Sprint PCS Wireless Web Digital Link, which is a CDMA Springboard module for Handsprings Visor handheld computer.
Handspring officials said they hope that the Sprint deal with help establish Blazer as the standard browser for Internet access on Palm devices.
"You need adoption by a broad community of carriers," said Ed Colligan, chief operating officer at Handspring in Mountain View, Calif., who said the company is in talks with several carriers. "But this is a step in the right direction."
Neither Blazer nor any other third-party browser will run on the Palm VII device, which runs on Palms own Palm.net network. This can be frustrating for Palm VII customers, who like having a reasonably priced handheld with integrated wireless service but arent thrilled with the Web browsing capabilities.
"Palm.net has a major deficiency, which is that it doesnt have a good general browser," said Christopher Bell, an independent Palm OS software developer in Belmont, Mass. "The other services have a problem, which is that they dont have good integrated wireless services. Couldnt they just get together for such a simple pairing?"
Colligan said this is not likely. Aside from Palm.net using Palms Web clipping technology and Blazer using standard HTML, "its a very different solution," Colligan said. "Palm.net is their own network. This is on Sprints network and on a standard cellular network."
Meanwhile, Lucent Technologies Inc. spinoff Agere Systems last week announced a handheld platform for wireless handsets designed to speed up Internet data rates.
The platform, called SVL12, includes hardware and software based on General Packet Radio Service. Officials said it will enable a handset to download data at up to 50k bps, although much of that will depend on the network. Production quantities should be available to handset manufacturers by the end of the year; the company did not announce any licensees.