Palm tackles enterprise market with IBM

Palm and IBM have teamed up in an attempt to extend enterprise application access to mobile devices through Big Blue’s WebSphere Everyplace Access (WEA) solution. Under the terms of the agreement, the two vendors will develop a mobile client suite for Palm handhelds and an instant messaging application using Lotus Sametime technology.

  • E-Mail
By  Matthew Southwell Published  September 5, 2002

|~||~||~|Palm and IBM have teamed up in an attempt to extend enterprise application access to mobile devices through Big Blue’s WebSphere Everyplace Access (WEA) solution. Under the terms of the agreement, the two vendors will develop a mobile client suite for Palm handhelds and an instant messaging application using Lotus Sametime technology. Both solutions are scheduled to be available by the end of the year and more should follow during 2003.

In a parallel move, IBM has also signed up as a reseller of Palm’s handhelds, thereby replacing the outsourcing deal that saw Palm devices re-branded as IBM Webpads until six months ago.

Both agreements come at a time when IBM is attempting to establish WebSphere as the de facto platform for pervasive computing within the enterprise. By signing up with Palm, Big Blue has not only added a widely recognised handheld to its arsenal but also gained access to Palm’s large retail customer base of business users.

“There are millions of Palm handhelds within the enterprise. This relationship will ensure that those devices can now access enterprise applications across wireless networks, connected and disconnected, using WebSphere Everyplace Access,” says Letina Connelly, director of IBM’s enterprise pervasive computing division.

“Palm’s mobility expertise and preference in the enterprise, joined with IBM’s strength in delivering enterprise solutions and services, will help customers looking to leverage wireless to increase employee productivity and sales,” she adds.

For Palm, the agreement with IBM will help sure up its attack on the enterprise market — a campaign that was beginning to lose ground to Microsoft’s pocket PC and the combined might of HP and Compaq. “Establishing a relationship with IBM gives us the ability to compete with the likes of HP in the enterprise space,” comments Stuart Maughan, general manager of Palm’s Middle East branch.

Garner Group confirms that the agreement will give Palm’s enterprise play a boost. However, it also warns that the partnership will have to deliver on its joint strategy sooner rather than later.

“By joining forces with IBM, Palm can conceptually place itself in the same class as Microsoft in the enterprise. But if IBM and Palm don’t deliver key components soon, Microsoft may have the market to itself,” says Gartner Research’s Ken Dulaney.
Although Bloor Research shares Gartner’s doubts over the duo’s speed to market — a recent research note from the analyst house says the inherent security and size issues associated with Palm devices will hold it back — it is confident that the partnership will be a winner.

“These are first steps and sound much like something of a technology try-out. [However,] this kind of functionality is what the world has been waiting for and together this pair seem formidable. IBM has the centralised architecture within WebSphere to manage it [and] Palm has the leading handheld device,” states the research note.

While IBM’s Middle East customers will be able to utilise the WEA solution at the same time as their international counterparts, a local reseller agreement has yet to be signed. However, Palm’s Maughan and Bashar Kilani, manager of business transformation & integration software at IBM Middle East & Africa, say the two companies are currently working towards a CEMA-wide agreement.

“The [WEA] technology will be available here as soon as it is globally, but we are still working on the reseller agreement,” confirms Kilani.

“However, we are also working with Palm’s local office on a number of other initiatives to raise the profile of handhelds in the enterprise and the benefits they can provide,” he adds.

Kilani says the vendors will, initially, be targeting industries where the combination of mobility and data is critical to business success. “We are looking at a number of industries for this solution, from mobile sales teams to utilities companies and police forces. All of these organisations require the ability to access real time information when they are on the move and they will be able to do this using [the solution’s] instant messaging capabilities,” he says.

Furthermore, Kilani believes the uptake of wireless solutions should be rapid as, thus far, the Middle East has shown a preference for mobile devices and communication methods, such as short message service (SMS), over e-mail.

“The market here is still growing, so we think there is a lot of potential because the region is not so much a user of e-mail but mobiles. You only have to look at the fact that there are only 300,000 e-mail accounts in the Middle East compared to over one million mobile phones,” he says.||**||

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code