Discovery Communications acquires United Learning

Media and entertainment company Discovery Communications Inc., whose holdings include the Learning Channel, the Discovery Channel, and Discovery Channel School, has acquired United Learning, an Evanston, Ill.-based producer and distributor of educational multimedia products.

Under the deal, announced Sept. 4, United Learning will operate as a wholly owned division of Discovery’s consumer products group. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

United Learning has provided video content to supplement core curricular instruction for nearly 50 years. Its flagship product, United Streaming, is a video-on-demand subscription service offering 2,000 videos and nearly 20,000 video clips that are correlated to state standards.

While United Streaming already includes some Discovery content, company officials said the deal will give United Learning full access to Discovery’s library of several hundred thousand hours of video programming, thereby greatly expanding the range of content available through the service.

For its part, Discovery adds a proven company with 24,000 school subscribers and a different mode of content delivery: streaming video online.

“United Learning’s video library and digital delivery system, combined with Discovery’s content, will be a stronger enterprise and give us a major opportunity to grow education-related services,” said Judith McHale, president and chief operating officer of Discovery Communications.

“Our goal is to build a dynamic, multimedia business that will leverage the power of both our brands, our technologies, and our global reach to deliver world-class video products to schools around the world, ultimately … enhancing the classroom learning experience,” she concluded.

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Handheld computer company Palm unveils new name

Soon, Palm Inc. will be no more. The company that pioneered the personal digital assistant and made the word “Palm” practically synonymous with any PDA will change its name to palmOne Inc. this fall.

The new name, which was unveiled Aug. 18, will immediately follow the official split of the company’s hardware and software units, expected to be completed in the fall.

The unit that develops the Palm operating system will remain as PalmSource Inc., and the operating system itself will continue to be known as Palm.

The division that makes Palm devices will adopt the name of palmOne, with products bearing the new logo by spring, said Page Murray, vice president of marketing for the Milpitas, Calif.-based Palm.

The task of choosing new names started after the spinoff was proposed more than a year ago to help each unit better compete with rivals, such as Microsoft Corp. on the operating system side and Sony Corp. on the hardware side.

Operating as both a hardware and software provider sometimes created snags for Palm, and hindered potential partners that feared the Palm units would share information or subsidize each other.

Keeping the word “palm” in the names was a no brainer. “It’d be a crime for both companies to not tap into the tremendous equity in the Palm brand,” Murray said.

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