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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great expection

Angus @ 6/27/2000 9:35:02 AM #
just compare Pansonic brick size "plantium series" walkman with Sony's cellphone size walkman, you can tell the difference between company. But if Pansonic did design smaller memory card then sony's gum memory card, then once a while, it shows that pansonic did do it's homework once a while.

is palm smoking crack?

I.M. Anonymous @ 6/27/2000 9:58:25 AM #
their logic that the springboard size poses 'serious limitations' seems absurd. Within the size of the spring board slot a lot of electronics can be stuffed with out increasing the overall dimensions of the device. However if need be they can make it even larger and extend higher and farther back to have additional room. Palm on the other hand announced a vaporware postage stamp size expansion with no prototype so we can see exactly how this is less limiting than the springboard solution. Sounds like palm is blowing smoke because they are worried that everyone they licensed the OS too is working on one of the major faults of the OS, expandability
Handspring has the Springboard
Sony has the memorystick
TRG has the CF Slot
and there are others who have come up with clip on expandability options.
RE: is palm smoking crack?
I.M. Anonymous @ 6/27/2000 11:19:42 AM #
But, oh wait! CF existed before any of these companies made a palm clone!
RE: is palm smoking crack?
George Tang @ 7/25/2000 11:07:58 PM #
Well, since Palm OS was written by Palm (3Com), so, they wouldn't like their licensee take over the industrial standard for their device, so, they made up all this bxxxsxxx, but on the other hand CF, Springboard are too big to fit in a Palm Vx, however, I don't get it about not using Sony's Memory Stick, perhaps Palm (3Com) doesn't want Sony to lead the Standard?

I don't like new nonstandards

BrAtKo @ 6/27/2000 12:30:01 PM #
Sux, why they didn't choose CompactFlash or SmartMedia ? Every Palm clone must have different slot ? I hate that strategy.
RE: I don't like new nonstandards
Masher @ 7/26/2000 11:37:07 AM #
Setting the record straight, "SmartMedia devices WILL work in the SD slot. SD devices WON'T work in a SmartMedia device".

Palm has taken the intelligent approach of incorporating expansion compatibility into future OS releases. This includes, SD, Springboard, Memory Stick, CF and Sony's "Piece of gum:)".

I personally believe they chose the best standard based on Form Factor and expandability into such emerging markets as MP3 and streaming video.

Lastly, "All those folks complaining that Palm didn't chose the Sprinboard need to understand that Handspring has chosen NOT to license the technology at this time. This isn't to say this IS the reason they didn't chose Springboard its simply a statement of fact".


'A very happy IIIX owner'

SD vs. Springboard

Ronin @ 6/27/2000 2:56:56 PM #
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the SD (and Memory Stick) is designed for storage, right? While Springboard on the other hand can add more functionality to your PDA in addition to storage.
I'm confused. Why none is addressing the hardware expandability?
RE: SD vs. Springboard
BrAtKo @ 6/28/2000 1:43:04 AM #
Same as CompactFlash is not only memory storage.
Never mind. We can choose any device this time ;)
RE: SD vs. Springboard @ 6/28/2000 10:12:38 AM #
Yes, these are primarily designed to put things into and pull things out of storage. But think about it this way: you have a digital camera that is connect to your CD slot and you take a picture. All the CD slot knows is that a file is being transferred from the CD device into the Palm. It doesn't care that the file was just created by the CD device , in this case the camera.
RE: SD vs. Springboard @ 6/28/2000 10:12:38 AM #
Yes, these are primarily designed to put things into and pull things out of storage. But think about it this way: you have a digital camera that is connect to your CD slot and you take a picture. All the CD slot knows is that a file is being transferred from the CD device into the Palm. It doesn't care that the file was just created by the CD device , in this case the camera.
RE: SD vs. Springboard
I.M. Anonymous @ 12/14/2000 11:14:28 AM #
I have taken some pictures here at PalmSource this week. If you'd like to see some sample SD cards (GPS, BlueTooth, MP3, Memory), visit:


Richard Kettner

Playing Favorites @ 6/29/2000 8:46:33 AM #
I was thinking about this decision and I think I have one possible reason for Palm's decision. If they announced support for the expansion scheme of one of their licenses, they would be snubbing the others. If Palm decided to go with, say, Handspring's Springboards that would be a slap in the face to Sony and TRG. Palm needs its all its licensees to be happy for the long-term stability of the platform.


I.M. Anonymous @ 7/3/2000 12:25:12 PM #
Somebody could probably make a killing her, if they were clever enough to develop a Springboard module that would accept (or "convert") Compact flash, memory stick, & SD formats for use in a Visor!
RE: Expansion
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/23/2000 2:29:20 AM #
Guess what? they heard you! innogear are developing the innodrive, which will come in various flavours, MS for memory stick, MMC Cards, Maybe SD and CF card etc
more info @
with pics
see the springboard module is more versatile than everyother format because it can because anyone of them

VBox :-

RE: Expansion
I.M. Anonymous @ 12/14/2000 11:16:24 AM #
Yes, and there is a Springboard being designed for Compact Flash and Sony Memory stick readers. For more visit:


Richard Kettner

MMCs?! @ 7/25/2000 11:14:31 AM #
The release states: "Since the SD Card is also compatible with existing MultiMedia Cards (MMC), customers will be able to use these cards in SD-equipped devices when they debut."

That depends upon the *file format* used by the card. InnoGear's MMC file format might not be compatible (at least not initially; you can bet they will work with Palm to fix that).

RE: MMCs?!
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/25/2000 11:56:55 AM #
It obviously will depend on the file type, but if palm has the ability to play mp3's in the future and you have the files on the SD card, then you put the SD card in your MP3 player, it will more than likely be compatible. Once again, Palm is telling people just enough to get them intersted, but never gives details. Speculation is what keeps the handheld market on their toes

Sony Memory Stick

Mark @ 8/2/2000 3:01:41 PM #
I've had the honor of using both types of media, the spring board, the CF cards, and the Smart media cards(MMC). Just last week I tried the Sony memory stick. I gotta hand it to sony, I think they have the best solid state memory yet. I like the Smartmedia cards but they are really really fragile. its not something you'd want to carry in your pocket or laptop case, unless you had a hard plastic case to protect it, which I did and I still broke the thing. Its just too small.
The Springboard is a cool idea but i gotta say, it is a little to big for my tastes. It does limit the thinness of a Visor. It will never be as thin as the palm V.
The Memory stick is the best of both worlds in my opinion. Its small but very durable. its also thin, it could definitely be integrated into a Palm V form factor. And I think it has a lot of potential, although I think Sony screwed themselves when they let the lawyers do the designing and now they got the Magicgate memory stick, for the MP3 players. I think that this will kill the memory stick. if they kept it to one standard they'd have a winnner. But this new memory stick has split the market. The original Memory sticks could be used in any of the sony devices that offered it. Now you have to have a Magic Gate reader to read the MP3 sticks, and the memory for the MP3 player isn't backwords compatible with the older sticks. Sony had a great idea and screwed it up.

So I guess we're stuck with the SD from Palm. I really don't think handspring can cut it with their springboards. They also screwed up when they put out visors without the flash rom. Palms gonna retain the market, and I have a feeling that the SD will win out over sony's memory stick.

But thats just my 2 cents

RE: Sony Memory Stick <--- that's bull :)
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/14/2000 10:05:46 PM #
Hey, uh
The Springboard is cool b/c you can stick a ton of stuff in there besides memory. And 1/2 you Palm nerds are just using up that memory for games, right? Or stupid DB stuff.
Or maybe you have a "real use" for it? HA HA HA
Secondly, the Springboard is a good size for a real expansion, like a camera or mp3 player or whatever.
I don't like the flimsy cover over the Springboard slot, and I think some Palms have cooler cases, but basically the Handspring Visor (deluxe, specifically) is faster and kicks butt over the Palm series.
That's my 2 cents.

But basically, I think it's all a toy anyways, so people should LIGHTEN UP!



I.M. Anonymous @ 8/3/2000 8:09:56 AM #
It was so nice of Palm to support those of us who spent $$ on the Palm IIIX because it was upgradeable and had the expansion slot. Let's see we were supposed to see a pager module, MP3 player,cell phone, etc....I never saw any of those things come out! But they did us the big favor of discontinuing the model pretty quickly. We'll see what happens.
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/13/2001 9:03:49 PM #
They had MP3's back then?

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/13/2001 11:35:46 PM #
Upgradeable? I'd be happy with just a couple more megs of memory on this model.

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/14/2001 9:43:23 AM #
Cell Phone? MP3 Player? Are you sure you're not getting your platforms mixed up? All I remember is vague, hazy promises of expandablilty

Oh, and since the IIIx can take the AxxPac, and memory stuff from TRG, it's probably a lot more expandable than most of their other current offerings, which have to be expanded with a SMD Soldering station.



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