In late 1998, Palm came out with the Palm VII device containing a small radio unit that accessed content servers operated by Palm via the BellSouth Data Network. Because of the high cost wireless transmission, Palm decided to provide only clipped content and launched Palm.net service that supported small software apps known as PQAs (Palm Query Applications) that acted as an interface to the Internet. PQAs were small programs usually 3K in size that a user could load on the Palm VII devices. The Palm VII shipped with a slew of PQAs installed, which included software from ABC News, MapQuest, USA Today, Ticketmaster, The Weather Channel, and The Wall Street Journal. In addition, users could download any of the other 400 applications provided by the Palm.Net services, allowing them to track stocks, schedule or reschedule flights, track UPS packages, find restaurants and hotels, find phone numbers, get directions, find ATMs, or look up words in the dictionary. Furthermore, Palm.Net encouraged developers to develop new applications, supporting developer programs.
Palm was very smart to use the pager network provided by the BellSouth Data Network, because it was widely available in major cities. However, the page networks offered very small bandwidth, at very expensive prices. The original Palm.Net services were offered at $9.99 for the 50 K of data per month or $24.99 for a roomier 150 K per month and, depending on the amount of data queries made, for many users the bills went up into the hundreds of dollars in just one week of normal use.
In addition, the early device design was also clumsy and inefficient. The unit required AAA batteries, which normally lasted a week at most and added additional maintenance cost to the device. Preloaded PQAs provided only generic services, and to download additional PQAs, Palm VII users had to establish very expensive data connection to the Palm.Net servers. Further, the 2 MB available memory on the device did not provide much room for the PQAs, and users often found themselves short of memory. Mainly, the price of the device was set at a very high $599. Yet, Palm still got a lot of applause for launching the Palm.Net services and paving the road of the early mobile Internet services.