PALMSOURCE: Palm to pursue enterprise strategy

The PalmSource99 conference opened here yesterday with Eric Benhamou, chairman and chief executive officer of 3Com, announcing what appears to be a shift in marketing strategy for its Palm Computing subsidiary. The company will now pursue enterprise customers more aggressively.

After only a brief time on stage, Benhamou introduced Palm's new president, Alan J. Kessler, who was appointed last June.

Kessler continued the enterprise theme by exhorting the audience -- made up of Palm hardware and software developers -- to create enterprise-level solutions that he promised will bring new customers. At the same time he warned that IT managers are wary of handheld devices.

"IT managers fear bailing wire integration with legacy systems, cybertheft of corporate data, endless calls for support, the wrong tools for the job and another device to manage," Kessler said.

Kessler laid out for the audience, in general terms, what Palm Computing plans to do to help developers capture the corporate market including making the operating system processor independent so that it can run on many hardware solutions.

Kessler pointed out that the forthcoming cellular phone from Nokia with the PalmOS will use for the first time a processor other than the DragonBall; the Nokia uses an ARM (Advanced Risc Machines) chip.

In addition, Palm will upgrade the OS's audio capabilities and create an OS that will allow hardware OEMs to use various screen sizes.

Kessler also hinted at new designs to appeal to the youth market with perhaps multi-colored packaging for the Pilots.

"The consumer is an individual purchase and even this market is segmenting," Kessler said, adding that "the enterprise market is defined by an organization purchase, deployment and support. We are open for business in an enterprise way."

However he also reminded the developer audience of their need to keep on an eye on the company's chief rival in the enterprise space.

"The enemy is Windows CE and we need to be a better solution and that is what it is all about and an important aspect of our future," Kessler said.

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