Be, the operating system provider, will begin offering services based on its BeIA (Be Internet Appliance) OS by the fourth quarter of this year, the company has revealed.

Be was founded by Jean-Louis Gassee, Apple’s former chief technologist, who headed the Mac maker’s research and design department in the 1980s.

BeIA, which was launched in February, is aimed at low-cost appliances, such as Web tablets and entertainment devices for downloading video and audio streams.

Be has signed an agreement with Taiwan-based hardware manufacturer Arima to develop Internet consumer products, which will be sold on to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and other companies. These companies will be free to customize the user interface and branding of the devices, Be said in the statement.

Working 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.

The companies supporting BeIA include Hitachi, which has licensed BeIA for use in a consumer-information device to be sold to Japanese telecommunications firms. Compaq and Qubit, which makes Web tablets, have also licensed BeIA for use in forthcoming Web appliances.