Glorified pager company RIM has succeeded in bullying Handspring into licensing the former's extraordinary invention: the "keyboard".
"Specific terms of the royalty-bearing license were not disclosed," discloses a joint press release. "RIM has agreed to dismiss its pending litigation against Handspring following the execution of a definitive agreement."
In the release, Handspring co-founder Donna Dubinsky adds:-
"Wireless device users are finding that integrated QWERTY keyboards are a fast, easy and familiar method of data input. We are pleased to come to this agreement with RIM so that we can focus our resources on product innovation and expanding the market for our Treo communicators."
That's a hint that Handspring's decision probably owes more to its desire not to get bogged down in expensive litigation than any desire to license a keyboard. Handspring layed off 20 per cent of its staff in September, but has cash reserves to see it survive for a least another five quarters. If Handspring had been inclined to defend the suit, Register readers point out, here, there's an abundence of prior art; pager pioneer Motorola had this one nailed long ago.
Lawsuits in Motion chief Jim Balsille gets to plug his "leadership in innovative wireless solutions". Presumably he means the Knight Rider-era analog pager - which may or may not use the latest "transistors" and email proxy. Because that's pretty much what the dismal LIM proposition boils down to.
Yesterday Nokia showed that innovation, not litigation, is the best guarantor of long-term growth with an extraordinary array of interesting designs. The 6800 in particular is worth a look: it's looks like a regular phone, only the top flips open to let you rotate the phone 90 degrees, and use a split "handlebar" keyboard that's far more spacious to use than the pagers.
But Handspring, we hope, gets to fight another day. The next big update to PalmOS features pluggable I/O modules, and licensees will have a host of input methods from which to choose. ®
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