HandEra to Help Others Make Smartphones

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HandEra has announced that it will offer assistance to companies who want to build smartphones and wireless handhelds around Texas Instruments’ OMAP Platform, but still remains mum about its own plans for new devices.

As an independent OMAP Technology Center, Handera will work with TI to assist Palm OS licensees and developers to create 2.5G and 3G mobile handsets, wireless handhelds, and applications using TI’s OMAP processors.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to help deliver mobile devices based on the OMAP platform,” said Mark Kubovich, President of HandEra. “Palm OS 5 is a real watershed event for the industry, and OMAP platform-based solutions are going to help set the standard of performance for 2.5G and 3G handhelds.”

This announcement raises questions about HandEra’s own plans for new handhelds. The company hasn’t released a new device since the HandEra 330 about 18 months ago but, by and large, it is keeping its cards close to its chest. Mr. Kubovich told Palm Infocenter at the PalmSource conference in February that his company would release handhelds based on Palm OS 5 but the company has been quiet about it ever since.

However, rumors are circulating that the company will release an OS 5 model and this announcement is certain to set off a new round of speculation simply because the easiest way for HandEra to become an expert at developing handhelds based on OMAP processors is to be developing one itself.

HandEra has been trying for about a year to licence to other companies its technology for making Palm OS devices with 320 by 240 screens and virtual Graffiti. In January, HandEra said that some company would release a model using the technology within a year. Symbol has demoed a prototype model using a color screen with HandEra’s technology but hasn’t released it. It’s possible any new HandEra device will include this type of screen.

About the OMAP Platform

TI’s OMAP Platform includes several processors appropriate for using in handhelds. The OMAP1510 is a dual-core chip that combines an ARM-based processor with a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) for better multimedia performance. According to rumor, this is the chip Palm is using in its forthcoming OS 5 model, the Tungsten T. The OMAP710 combines a DSP-based GSM/GPRS baseband and an ARM-based processor, creating a chip intended for smartphones. The OMAP310 is a power-efficient, ARM-based application processor intended for inexpensive handhelds.

Thanks to Tom Sweet for the tip. -Ed

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