Palm to Support New Expansion Slot (Updated)
Palm will announce today support for the new Secure Digital (SD) slot, technology for offering add-ons such as MP3 players,additional storage, or Bluetooth. Palm will work SD technology into the OS and plans to release devices with SD slots by 2001.
"It's unique among form factors," said John Cooke, senior director of product marketing for Palm, highlighting the security SD offers and the advantages gained from its small size. An SD card is about the size of a postage stamp, he said. Handspring has "serious limitations because of the size of the Springboard device," he added.
The decision to support SD is considered a bit controversial as it means every type of handheld running the Palm OS will use an incompatible method for adding expansion devices. There was some speculation in the past that Palm would license Sony's Memory Sticks but this clearly isn't in the cards. There was even more unlikely speculation that Palm would someday support Handspring's Springboard modules but this announcement appears to make that an even more remote possibility.
Update Palm has announced it will support multiple standards for expansion slots in future versions of its operating system. All Palm OS licensees will have the option to use the new technology to integrate any of the leading expansion standards into their products. Additionally, Palm OS application developers will be able to add support for expansion across Palm OS products, regardless of the particular expansion card technology in the product.
The expansion architecture supports the Secure Digital (SD) Card, Sony's MemoryStickô storage technology, Compact Flash, Handspring's Springboard modules, and external expansion options for current Palm brand handhelds.
We are aggressively focused on enhancing our operating system by incorporating support for premier expansion standards and other technologies that enhance the solutions we provide for our customers," said Alan Kessler, chief operating officer of platform and products of Palm, Inc. "By supporting industry-standard solutions, we allow customers to choose elegant handheld products which address their specific needs in a variety of form factors, and will promote even broader adoption of Palm powered handhelds."
Update 2: Palm chose to support the SD card for use in its brand of handheld computers because of the numerous advantages the card format offers, which includes compatibility, cost, data storage access and security. As an open industry standard, the SD Card is already supported by over 60 companies including Hewlett Packard, NEC, Pioneer, Qualcomm and Thomson. Many of these companies are already developing MP3 players/recorders, digital cameras and smart phones, which will be SD compatible. Because of the card's widespread industry support, it is expected to proliferate in the consumer electronics market and be compatible with a large array of products.
"The SD card is a widely supported initiative that encourages interoperability between various consumer electronics devices," said Byron Connell, vice president, consumer markets group at Palm. Inc. "Consumers will be able to transfer cards between devices, share image and music files and even insert an I/O option like Bluetooth, which will facilitate the creation of powerful applications for consumers and the enterprise."
The thumbnail-size SD card will start shipping in Q4 of this year in 32 and 64 megabyte (MB) versions, with plans for much higher capacity in the future. Proprietary security functions have also been incorporated into the SD card that facilitate the secure exchange of content between devices and the card. The security technology has been designed to comply with the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), making it an ideal solution for the transfer of digital content such as music and movies.
The SD Memory Card was introduced in August, 1999, by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., best known by its Panasonic brand name, SanDisk and Toshiba Corp. The new SD Association is an industry-wide association created to set industry standards for the card and promote its wide acceptance in digital applications including Internet music players, Internet appliances, cellular phones, digital still cameras, digital video cameras, handheld computers, automotive systems, set-top boxes and other products.
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