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Palm signs handwriting software deal

PalmSource, the operating system division of Palm, will discontinue its Graffiti handwriting recognition software in favour of Jot technology from Communication Intelligence.

The Jot software will be renamed Graffiti 2 and will be embedded in exisiting and future versions of the OS.

PalmSource officials said Jot emulates more natural printing input. While in Grafitti a user has to write an upside down L to depict a 't', in Jot the same letter is written as a plain 't'. "Users don't have to read a manual," said Michael Higashi, director of OS Marketing for Palmsource.

However, the punctuation is more of an effort. "You have to do an upstroke instead of a dot," said Higashi.

While the latest software may make most users happier, the same may not be said for retailers who still have plenty of the older Grafitti-based Palm OS devices on their shelves.

"Manufacturers choose when they want to roll it out," said Marlene Somsak, from Palm Solutions Group.

Somsak said Palm SG was unsure whether the company would roll out Grafitti 2 based devices as a new model or do what she called a "soft roll", upgrading the existing models with new handwriting software.

As for so-called power users who have invested the time in learning Grafitti, Higashi claimed the transition is as easy as going from a notebook keyboard to a desktop keyboard.

Palm SG intends to have Grafitti 2 products this year. One industry analyst called Jot an interim solution. "CIC is not bad and will serve until the migration to all keyboard handhelds is complete," said David Hayden, principal analyst with consultancy MobileWeek.

Hayden said consumers have been opting for handhelds with keyboards. Handspring has two handheld models, one with a keyboard and one with Grafitti. "More than 90% of the buyers chose the model with the keyboard," Hayden said.

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