PALMSOURCE: Products, services aim at businesses

Palm Computing launched new products and services this week aimed at encouraging companies to make its Palm computer and the Palm software platform a central part of their operations.

Thinking beyond sales to individual users, Palm is urging businesses to deploy Palm computers to their workers, giving them a quick and portable way to access sales, inventory and other types of data.

The pitch from Palm executives here this week is that handheld computers can boost the productivity of salespeople, warehouse workers and other staff by giving them a quick, highly portable way to access company data.

The challenge, they acknowledge, will be to convince firms that deploying hundreds of new computers among their staff won't lead to spiralling costs and a logistical IT nightmare.

"IT managers fear bailing wire integration with legacy systems, cyber-theft of corporate data, endless calls for support, the wrong tools for the job, and another device to manage," Alan Kessler, Palm's president, said in a keynote speech here this morning.

The company hopes to address those fears with new products and development tools geared for corporations, he said.

For starters, Palm announced yesterday new server software that it said will allow hundreds of workers to synchronise their handheld computers with data stored on an enterprise server. Called Palm HotSync Server, the software includes features for asset tracking, backing up data and centrally distributing updated applications, Palm said in a statement.

Besides working with handhelds based on the Palm OS, the software can be used to synchronise data from computers based on Microsoft's Windows CE operating system, Palm said. Palm HotSync is based on Riverbed Technologies' ScoutSync server product.

Palm also announced the Palm Ethernet Cradle, a hardware product that allows workers to synchronise data in Palm with information on a server or their desktop, without having to go back to their desk. Palm's idea is for companies to station an Ethernet Cradle in conference rooms and cafeterias around an office.

The Ethernet Cradle transmits data at 10M bps, and works with 10/100 Mbps Ethernet hubs and switches, Palm said. Besides Palm computers, it can be used with IBM Corp.'s WorkPad 20X and 30X, Franklin Covey products and the Symbol SPT 1500.

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James Niccolai

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