RIM gets third-party support for over-air synchronization

Xtended Systems announced on Monday that its XTNDConnect Server software, which currently runs on Palm, Pocket PC, and Symbian operating systems, will be extended to do similar wireless and cradle-based synchronization for the Research in Motion (RIM) platform.

Currently, only RIM offers server synchronization software.

But cross-platform synchronization will allow corporate IT organizations to deploy different handhelds within a company to different workgroups depending on each group's particular needs, according to Don Baumgartner, vice president of worldwide marketing at the Boise, Idaho-based wireless company.

"As an enterprise you don't want to tie yourself into one particular product. A large group may need heavy-duty applications, and you might outfit them with a more expensive CE device. But if another group just needs PIM [personal information manager] functionality, you might roll out a low-cost Palm device, and still only one synchronization and management application need be deployed," Baumgarten said.

Baumgarten also said that all of the devices have particular strengths and weaknesses.

"With Palm their PIM applications are really good. From an application development standpoint you have to look at CE as a leader because Microsoft provides a lot of development tools. Symbian has better wireless integrated capabilities," Baumgartner said.

In June, the XTNDConnect Server will allow RIM users to synchronize corporate applications plus calendar, e-mail, and tasks using the cradle at the desktop. Later this fall, wireless synchronization capability will be added.

Over-air synchronization is fast becoming one of the architectural tools required by handheld users, according to one industry analyst.

"Most people synch once a day. In order to make mobile devices more valuable and timely you have to increase that. In a wireless environment you have to have pervasive connectivity," said Tim Scannell, president and founder of Shoreline Research in Quincy, Mass.

Pricing for the RIM server software is $95 per seat at the 1,000 or more seat level.

InfoWorld Editor at Large Ephraim Schwartz is based in San Francisco.

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