IDC: PocketPC to challenge Palm OS for corporate users

While Palm Inc. maintains a healthy lead in the handheld operating system market, analysts at market researcher International Data Corp. (IDC) say Microsoft Corp.'s new PocketPC operating system has a better chance of finding acceptance among business users, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The study, entitled "Mobilizing the Enterprise: Handheld Devices," surveyed 1,149 purchasing managers and IT managers, of which 158 are planning to support at least 500 handhelds next year, said Travis Glasson, research analyst for IDC's mobile user service. Of those 158, the study found that 36 percent are either considering standardization or have definite plans to standardize on PocketPC devices for their workforces. The Palm OS appears to be the potential choice of only 20.6 percent of respondents looking to purchase 500 or more handhelds.

The Palm OS has the lead among companies who have already standardized on a handheld operating system. Roughly 29 percent of the respondents have already standardized with Palm, while about 11 percent have chosen PocketPC, said the study.

The inclusion of several key technologies, namely VPN (virtual private network) support and a terminal server client, makes the PocketPC a more attractive option for businesses, said Randy Giusto, vice president of IDC's wireless and mobile device research, in a statement. The PocketPC also will benefit from the rush to provide support from companies such as Hewlett-Packard Co., Compaq Computer Corp., Symbol Technologies Inc., and Toshiba Corp., Giusto said.

The study also predicted that the lack of a dominant player in any facet of the corporate handheld market will foster intense competition, and continued adoption of wireless technologies will move many corporations to put their users on handhelds.

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