The Net in your pocket

Palm Computing has just announced the release of the “Palm VII” connected organizer, which lets users obtain information from web and intranet sites via a wireless connection to the Internet. The new handheld units also provide a means of instant two-way personal communication, making Dick Tracy’s old “two-way wrist TV” something that may finally happen.

The Palm VII organizer, which is scheduled to enter its national field trial in early 1999, is expected to be widely available later in 1999 for about $1000. For this (and monthly Internet access fees) users will have a wireless means of quickly finding important Internet information, such as flight schedules and news headlines, and conducting online transactions such as movie ticket purchases or online stock trades.

The Palm VII also introduces a new model for accessing Internet information, called “web clipping.” Web clipping is a means of extracting only a specific set of needed information from a given web site, eliminating extraneous information (such as heavy graphics). This speeds up what could be a very slow (and costly) wireless transmission.

Twenty-two leading Internet content providers have already made theirites accessible to this new service, including heavyweights like, Fodor’s, Frommer’s, MapQuest, Mastercard, Merriam-Webster, and Moviefone and Yahoo! Others are expected to follow as the new technology becomes more popular.

The one downside to this that I can see is that it’s yet another thing that people can do while they are driving. Cell phones seem tame when you consider that the jerk in front of you on the expressway may be buying a new mutual fund with his palmtop, while the traffic light turns green.