Samsung, Microsoft design cheap Pocket PC PDA

Microsoft Corp. and Samsung Semiconductor Inc. are working on concept designs for personal digital assistants, aiming to bring down the price of handhelds based on Microsoft’s Pocket PC software, the companies said in a statement Monday.

Electronics makers will be able to cut the cost of development and get to market quicker by using the ready-made PDA designs, the companies said. The first concept design, announced Monday, is for “an ultra low cost” and “ultra small” Pocket PC.

The design incorporates a Samsung ARM9-based S3C2410 application processor, Microsoft’s Windows Powered Pocket PC software and a 3.5 inch QVGA grayscale or colour display. Expansion capabilities are offered through MMC (MultiMedia Card), SD (Secure Digital) and SDIO (Secure Digital I/O) slots, according to the Microsoft and Samsung statement.

A device made using the grayscale display design would measure 4.1 inches by 2.8 inches (10.4 centimetres by 7.1 centimetres) and weigh 2.9 ounces (90 grams), the companies said. In comparison, Palm Inc.’s Zire, a recently announced US$99 entry-level PDA, measures 4.4 inches by 2.9 inches (11.2 centimetres by 7.4 centimetres) and weighs 3.8 ounces (118 grams), according to Palm’s Web site.

The companies did not give any indication of what the street price for a PDA built using the design might be.

The concept designs are an attempt to help Microsoft in its battle with PalmSource Inc. for market share on the PDA market. In the third quarter of this year, 50.2 per cent of PDAs shipped worldwide ran the Palm OS, compared to 28.3 per cent using Microsoft’s software. In the U.S. market, Palm OS comprised 69.5 per cent of all PDA shipments, with Microsoft trailing with 19.7 per cent, according to Dataquest Inc., a unit of research company Gartner Inc.

Samsung Semiconductor in San Jose is a subsidiary of Seoul-based Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. Microsoft of Redmond, Wash., and Samsung did not announce any takers for their PDA designs, nor did they say if Samsung would make a PDA based on the designs. Representatives for the companies were not immediately available for comment.