December 9, 1996 6:35 PM ET

Motorola to fire off mobile messaging announcements
By Mark Moore

  Motorola Inc. over the next two days will unleash a flurry of announcements aimed at strengthening its Memos mobile messaging platform for smart phones, smart pagers and other handheld devices.

The $27 billion Schaumburg, Ill., company is forming strategic alliances with three separate companies -- Starfish Software, Cirrus Logic Inc. and Unwired Planet Inc. -- in an effort to bolster its 32-bit client/server-based Memos platform with a PIM (personal information manager), a high-performance RISC processor and Internet browsing technology tailored for handheld devices, according to sources close to Motorola.

As part of Motorola's strategic alliance with Starfish Software, Starfish will develop a version of its client/server Sidekick PIM for smart phones and smart pagers that run Memos. Sidekick includes an Internet-based scheduler, an address book, a calendar and a note-taker, according to the sources.

In addition, the Sidekick for Memos version will provide PIM data synchronization and schedule conflict resolution between the Memos-based devices and desktop and notebook PCs over infrared links, sources said.

In addition, Motorola will announce on Tuesday an agreement with Cirrus Logic to license its ARM (Advanced RISC Machine)-based CL-PS7110 and CL-PS7115 32-bit RISC processor for handheld devices. Currently, Motorola's PageWriter smart pager, which is based on Memos, is powered by Motorola's 16-bit Dragonball 68000 processor. Both versions of the ARM processors provide better power consumption over the Dragonball, sources said.

Finally, Motorola on Wednesday will announce a strategic alliance with Unwired Planet in which Motorola will license Unwired Planet's Up.Link World Wide Web browser and Handheld Device Markup Language browser technology for viewing Web content on handheld devices.

Memos is a 32-bit open operating environment tailored for wireless messaging. The client/server platform includes Memos Server, the Memos Script language and the Memos Client, sources said.

The rules-based Memos Server provides advanced connectivity to the Internet and corporate intranets, as well as with existing land-line and cellular phones, fax machines, and pagers. Memos Script is a development environment for authoring messaging applications that deliver active Web-based content to these devices via intelligent agents. The Memos Client runs on a variety of portable devices, including smart pagers, smart phones and personal digital assistants.

Earlier this year, Motorola announced a $399 smart pager that runs Memos and is due the first quarter of next year. Called PageWriter, the clamshell-like device weighs 150 grams and is equipped with a QWERTY keyboard; a backlit, gray-scale VGA display with 240-by-160-pixel resolution; Motorola's 68000 Dragonball processor; 1M byte of flash ROM; and 256K bytes of RAM. PageWriter is based on Motorola's ReFlex two-way messaging protocol for narrowband personal communications services, or two-way paging, networks.

Another device that will be based on the Memos platform is Motorola's forthcoming smart phone, dubbed the Motorola GSM Map phone, expected to be available later this year in the United States, sources said. The Map phone, which melds digital voice, data services and PIM-like functionality into a single cellular handset, features a larger display than typical analog cellular phones, as well as a proprietary application that lets mobile users wirelessly browse the Web from the handset, sources said.

Motorola officials declined to comment.

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