Palm catches up to competition with increased RAM

Palm Inc. is now able to use up to 128M bytes of RAM in its PDAs (personal digital assistants) as the result of collaborative efforts with its operating system subsidiary PalmSource Inc., the company said Thursday in a release.

Billed as a "breakthrough," the announcement merely levels the RAM playing field between Palm and its competitors that use Microsoft Corp.'s Pocket PC operating system. Users of PDAs with Palm OS had been limited to 16M bytes of RAM for years, while the very first Pocket PC product, the iPaq, used 32M bytes of memory when it made its debut in 2000.

With the increased memory, application developers will be able to create richer media applications, said Steve Manser, senior vice president of product development for Palm, based in Milpitas, California. "We've enhanced our long-term product road map, and (recognized that) the prior limit of 16M bytes was not competitive," he said.

"It's an important step for Palm to move in this direction, however it is something that is an absolute necessity as some of Palm's major competitors have been able to address much higher amounts of memory for several years," said Alex Slawsby, an analyst with IDC in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Despite the memory limit, Palm's handhelds led the worldwide market, with 38.6 percent of worldwide shipments. Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP), which makes the iPaq, was second with 13.5 percent of the market, according to Dataquest Inc.

The iPaq 1910 comes with 64M bytes of SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), 46M bytes of which is user accessible, according to information on HP's Web site.

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