Handhelds help corporate users

Although the Middle East's mobile computing market is still dominated by the erstwhile laptop, both Palm and HP are using Gitex 2003 to tout their respective handheld devices as the ideal solution for local business users.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  October 19, 2003

Although the Middle East's mobile computing market is still dominated by the erstwhile laptop, both Palm and HP are using Gitex 2003 to tout their respective handheld devices as the ideal solution for local business users.

Palm's drive is focused around its wide range of devices, such as the Tungsten, while HP is putting its faith in its iPAQ offering. Both solutions offer users rapid access to corporate data at anytime and from anywhere.

"Corporates are arming their users with handhelds to increase the speed with which they can access information and update it. Users can also access and update databases on the run," says Christoph Schell, general manager of HP Middle East's personal systems group.

"About 30% of companies are looking at handheld solutions... Technologies like Wi-Fi make handhelds more interesting now, as does the fact that they are becoming more powerful so they can run business apps," adds Stuart Maughan, general manager, Palm Middle East.

Both vendors have recently won key local accounts - Palm at Arab Beverages in Dubai and HP at Unilever Mashreq Egypt - and both expect to sign up more as Middle East corporates begin to realise the many benefits handheld devices can provide and overcome any concerns they had about the technology.

"The thing that has hindered adoption [of handhelds] in the past at the corporate level was security. However, that has now been tackled and if you look at something like the iPAQ then it has a lot of security features built in," says Schell.

Furthermore, Palm believes handhelds will become increasingly popular as local organisations begin to address issues such as total cost of ownership (TCO) and investigate technology solutions that are capable of delivering a return as soon as they have been implemented.

"It is all do with TCO. Companies can provide a Palm at a much lower cost than a laptop, so if the user really doesn't need a laptop then handhelds are better," explains Maughan.

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