Two potential iPhone rivals will be introduced weeks ahead of the device on Wednesday, according to reports. Palm said today that company founder Jeff Hawkins will announce “a new category of mobile device” at the Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital Conference tomorrow. Meanwhile, Gizmodo is reporting that Microsoft will introduce a new device at midnight tonight. In an advance look at the announcement, the gadget blog quotes a Microsoft email as saying the product is “something totally new coming out of the [Microsoft] Entertainment and Devices division, and it’s going to change the way people interact with technology.” The email also stated that “you really have to see it to believe it.” Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Microsoft chairman Bill Gates will take part in a rare joint interview at the D conference on Wednesday. A Microsoft device announcement would seemingly be aimed at giving Gates a talking point to counter the iPhone discussion during the meeting.
Update: Microsoft’s announcement is a tabletop touch-sensitive technology dubbed Microsoft Surface. Reportedly five years in the making, the advanced software allows users to use their fingers to manipulate photos and files, much like the iPhone’s multi-touch interface. The computers will initially be targeted at businesses, hotels and other retail establishments.
Update #2: Palm’s new product is the Foleo, a new mobile device being marketed as a companion to the company’s Treo smartphone. The device sports a 10-inch display, full-size keyboard, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and a 5-hour battery life. The Palm Foleo will be available later this year for $500.