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Palm's Push into the Enterprise

If you are a student or run-of-the-mill Palm user, you might have thought PalmSource 2000 was about OS 4 or giving an reason for lots of companies to announce their new software all at once. But it was actually intended to increase Palm's market share among corporations.

Palm is completely aware that being the best selling handheld among consumers isn't enough if your competitors corner the business market. Allegory is always suspect, but if you will forgive me for a second, I'll use one. There was a time in the 80s when a majority of personal computers sold were made by Apple, who mostly concentrated on the consumer. But Microsoft and their coalition of hardware makers concentrated on business users. Fast forward a decade or so and see who won. Yes, I'm oversimplifying but I think the moral holds true.

Fortunately, Palm has already made great inroads in the Enterprise. At PalmSource, Alan Kessler, Palm's chief operating officer, gave the happy news that 40% of Palm devices are paid for or reimbursed by businesses and that 80% of Palm devices are already synched at the office. He went on to give the even better news that more than 120 Fortune 500 companies have already standardized on Palm.

But Palm isn't using the "Build it and they will come" strategy. They are working hard to make the platform even more attractive to the enterprise. Three announcements were made this week that will warm the heart of developers who toil in the depths of large corporations.

The first, that AppForge has released a plug-in for Visual Basic that will allow users to more easily develop Palm apps using VB, is aimed at over 6 million VB developers, the vast majority of which are creating internal apps for businesses. The second, that Sun will ship a developer release of Java 2 Micro Edition for the Palm, is music to the ears at the 2.5 million developers already using J2ME. And the third important announcement was that Metrowerks will release a version of its CodeWarrior tool suite targeting enterprise application development on the Palm platform. All the built-in apps on the Palm were written with CodeWarrior and most current serious Palm developers use it now.

None of these announcements made a big splash with the average Palm user. But they are very important to the Palm platform's long term viability.

One question that hasn't been yet been conclusively answered is "What do corporate users need handhelds for?" Until now, corporate users have used their Palms for the same thing everyone else did: contact info, scheduling, etc. But as wireless networking becomes more pervasive, the possibilities of what can be done increase. Will wireless instant messaging become as important to the Enterprise as wired IM is now? Will wireless PDAs replace salespeople's cell phones and pagers? What whole new categories of business applications will be created with these new tools? The companies that correctly answer these questions will have a real head up on their competitors in the future business market.

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Palm doesnt know squat about corporations

I.M. Anonymous @ 12/18/2000 7:35:46 AM #
Palm has no idea how to deal with business. I work for a very large oil company that has hundreds if not thousands of Palms. We have tried to get information from Palm about their network hot synch server and can't even get them to return our phone calls. Its no wonder so many of our IT people are snapping up ipaqs as fast as they can. Like so many things about Palm these days their claim to be making a push into business is nothing but hot air.

RE: Palm doesnt know squat about corporations
I.M. Anonymous @ 12/18/2000 9:37:27 AM #
Wow sounds like your experience with palm hasn't been good. I work for a pharmaceutical company and everytime I have contacted palm they have been great. They have directed me to appropirate sources within palm or third party suppliers when nessecary. They've been really prompt asnd thorough in answering questions. Within in IT, i work on the informationcontent side of things but my hardware IT contacts havew not had any issues with palm either.

RE: Palm doesnt know squat about corporations
I.M. Anonymous @ 12/18/2000 9:37:27 AM #
Wow sounds like your experience with palm hasn't been good. I work for a pharmaceutical company and everytime I have contacted palm they have been great. They have directed me to appropirate sources within palm or third party suppliers when nessecary. They've been really prompt asnd thorough in answering questions. Within in IT, i work on the informationcontent side of things but my hardware IT contacts havew not had any issues with palm either.

RE: Palm doesnt know squat about corporations
I.M. Anonymous @ 12/18/2000 12:18:26 PM #
In response to the above comment from the person at the large oil company, I work for Palm in the Enterprise sales team. If you give me a way to contact you, I will make sure that the appropriate rep gives you a call.

Dave

RE: Palm doesnt know squat about corporations
I.M. Anonymous @ 12/19/2000 11:45:23 AM #
This sounds like pure Palm bashing with no logic at all. What do you want/need to know about HotSync Server? Are you complaining because you couldn't get the proper Palm contact to help you with HotSync questions? Hard to believe. Material and links are readily available on the web site. And I'm sure a call to Palm can point you in the right direction.

If Palm can't help - look at their list of Enterprise Alliance Partners (We are one of them). Anyone on that list would be more than glad to help you with Hotsync Server (or even other competing products)

What the user needs to realize is that the reality of the mobile world of today (and tomorrow) will be populated with multiple OS devices (PalmOS, CE, RIM, Java2ME, WAP and more). If he/she is hoping or expecting a winner take all - get ready for a disappointment. What the user needs to do is realize that products like HotSync Server, ExtendedSystems, Afira, Synchrologic, and others will all be necessary tools to deploy, manage, and connect multiple devices.

I expect Palm will support the enterprise customers with a similiar model to Microsoft. It's called "Solution Providers".

Are you subscribing to Palm Enterprise support? Are you subscribing to Microsft support?

Soon you'll be able to view "enterprise" solutions on Palm in a searchable site, with customer feedback on solutions. This will be the real measure of customer satisfaction - not just anonymous ramblings.

Palm hasn't replied to my open letter, either
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/2/2001 2:23:00 PM #
Preface: I'm actually a pretty happy palm Vx user, but it's still basically a tool for me, which doesn't integrate or share well without my manual support.

There are a bunch of cases where the Palm OS falls short, and the developers haven't helped bridge the gap. I'm happy to answer questions from Palm developers, Palm folks, or Alliance partners who are looking for some clues; email palmdude@baylug.org

In short, Palm seems to be centered around single-user development. In a two-palm household, we need to be able to share some calendar/phonebook entries while keeping others separate..consider extending this to memo's and to-do's as well... Since I also use my Palm at work (and I've created illustrated TealDoc manuals, which I share), I need to sync at home and at work.

I also tried to get info about the group server. Nobody returned email or calls...and very little info about how it can address my needs is online at Palm.

The alliance partner websites also want money before they will answer questions...including "Can you do this?". If I could figure it all out, I'd post a webpage about it, and list it in a dozen search engines, since the resource pool on the topic is practically nil.

As near as I can tel, as an appliance operator, the PalmOS only has one "backup" bit, so it can't tell if I'm at home, at a conference, or at the office, which means that some data doesn't get shared without my manually editing the phonebook, calendar, Memos, etc.
(And don't get me started about the duplicate entries in the addressbook, which requires a third-party app to interceed because of a hiccup in the OS. :-(

-Z-

os4

jack off @ 12/20/2000 11:43:58 AM #
os4 sucks
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