PalmSource has announced that Legend Group, the largest PC maker in China, has become a Palm OS licensee.
Legend will begin offering a new handheld running a Chinese version of Palm OS in January. It will include a color screen, MP3-playback, a dictionary, and the standard Palm OS apps. It will sell for below 2,000 yuan, or $240, according to Reuters.
IDC has predicted that the handheld market in China will grow more than 20% per year between now and 2006, with sales rising to more than 5 million units in that year. However, few outside handheld or smartphone manufacturers have made much of a dent in the Chinese market, though most of these companies have set their sites on it. Currently, most handhelds sold in China have proprietary operating systems.
The Palm OS is on only 3% of the handhelds sold in the country, though PalmSource hopes this deal with Legend will significantly increase that. PalmSource CEO David Nagel said his company has a goal of having 20% of the Chinese handheld market in two years. Legend seems committed to helping with this goal; Legend Vice-President Lu Yan said that, within a year, more than half the handhelds his company makes will use the Palm OS. Legend is the leading provider of handhelds in China and this fall accounted for over 30% of the handhelds sold in that country.
“Legend is an ideal partner for PalmSource in China because of its leadership, its ability to bring innovative products to market and its outstanding distribution system,” said Mr. Nagel
The company is already a Pocket PC licensee, offering a model called the Legend XP100, with a 206 MHz StrongARM processor and 64 MB of memory, that is available only in China.
Of course, Legend won’t be making the only Palm OS models sold in China. Acer has been selling handhelds with a Chinese version of the Palm OS there for quite some time and Handspring has recently announced that the Treo 270 smartphone will be available in China before the end of this month. In addition, PalmSource announced today that Group Sense PDA Limited has signed an agreement to license the Palm OS and produce devices for the Asia Pacific region, including China. And, finally, the Palm Solutions Group, the hardware division of Palm Inc., announced today that it will begin selling handhelds in China in the first half of 2003.