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October 10, 1999

3Com Postpones Palm IPO Announcement Amid Symbian Rumors

By CBR Staff Writer

By Brian White

3Com Corp postponed an announcement on the planned flotation of its Palm Computing subsidiary on Friday, sparking a flurry of rumors, including speculation that the PalmPilot maker is ready to join Symbian, the mobile phone maker-backed developer of rival Psion’s EPOC OS. Shares in Psion Plc, which owns a 28.1% stake in Symbian, rose 6% to a yearÆs high of 12.28 pounds on the prospect of the leading producer of handheld computers joining Symbian.

Palm runs on its own proprietary operating system, PalmOS, which it has offered as an open architecture for handheld computing, and attracted IBM and Qualcomm as licensees. In addition, PalmÆs founders Jeffrey Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky this month started shipping their own Handspring handheld machines based on the Palm architecture.

While rumors suggested that Palm would ditch PalmOS for EPOC, such a move would be an extraordinary development for a company on the eve of its IPO. The word is that EPOC is becoming such a dominant force in wireless devices that Palm is moving quickly before it is locked into a minority and declining OS. A more likely scenario might see 3COM offering PalmOS as a GUI interface with a digital assistant application development platform running on top of an EPOC communication platform.

Symbian refused to comment on the rumors, though the company has made it clear that it is not looking for new shareholders. An official says Symbian is in talks with a variety of companies who wish to become partners though it said it would leave it to the companies to make an announcement when they felt ready.

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