Acer, Widcomm team on Bluetooth devices
LAS VEGAS (IDG) -- Acer NeWeb this week said it will manufacture its first products based on Bluetooth, an emerging standard for connecting wireless devices.
The products will result from a strategic alliance announced between Acer NeWeb, a member of the Taiwan-based Acer Group, and Widcomm, a San Diego-based startup that makes Bluetooth-based products. At a press conference in Las Vegas Tuesday, executives from Acer and Widcomm described the partnership as a "long-term relationship."
Using Widcomm's technology, Acer will manufacture a Bluetooth adapter, priced under $100, for a handheld device from Handspring expected to be launched in the second quarter of 2000, Acer and Widcomm executives said.
Widcomm already showed the add-on module, called Blue-Connect, for Handspring's Visor handheld product family, in New York last month.
At the press conference Tuesday, the companies showed how two users could send instant messages to each other using their Bluetooth-enabled Handsprings, which is only one possible application for the handheld.
In the third quarter, Acer and Widcomm will also launch a PC dongle to let PCs communicate with other Bluetooth-approved devices. That will be followed by other adaptors for PDAs (personal digital assistants) and cell phones, the companies said.
Bluetooth is a specification for wireless data and voice transmission that uses radio links to connect up to eight devices with one another. Users can forego cables and can synchronize communications between PCs, telephones, PDAs and peripherals such as printers. Initially, Bluetooth devices will be able to transmit at distances of up to 30 feet.
Bluetooth represents a good way to bridge the gap between wireless technologies that work outside and those used within a home or office, said Widcomm President and Chief Executive Officer Hiep Pham.
"There is no one perfect technology. Anytime, anywhere connectivity hasn't happened yet," Pham said, pointing to the fact that cellular and satellite networks do not offer complete coverage indoors. The ideal, he said, is to combine these technologies.
The partnership also reflects Acer's push into non-PC devices. "We want to focus on the time beyond the PC era," said Simon Lin, president and chief executive officer of Acer Inc. In an interview earlier this week, Lin said Acer this year will ship some 1 million non-PC Net devices.
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