Operating system developer Be will be offering devices based on its BeIA (Be Internet Appliance) OS by the fourth quarter of this year.
BeIA, launched in February, is targeted at low-cost appliances such as Web tablets, as well as entertainment devices for downloading video and audio streams from the Internet.
Be has signed an agreement with Taiwanese hardware manufacturer Arima Computer to jointly develop the Internet consumer products, which will be sold on to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and other companies.
These companies will be free to customise the user interface and branding of the devices, Be said in a statement.
Teaming with Arima will shorten the time needed to get BeIA-based products in the hands of consumers, according to Jean-Louis Gassée, chairman and chief executive officer of Be.
At the February launch of BeIA, Gassée said that BeIA's strengths lie in its stability, its ability to handle rich multimedia content, and a modular design that allows the OS to be adapted for use in a wide range of devices.
Among the companies supporting BeIA is Hitachi, which has licensed BeIA for use in a consumer information device to be sold through Japanese telecommunications firms. Compaq and Qubit, which makes Web tablets, have also licensed BeIA for use in forthcoming Web appliances. http://www.be.com.