Major players in the personal digital assistant (PDA) market forged new partnerships and introduced new products this week, just ahead of the much-awaited Microsoft PocketPC launch next Wednesday.
Palm in Santa Clara, California, said it has broadened its partnership with Dell Computer, which will allow Texas-based Dell to offer the entire suite of Palm handheld computers through its direct sales channels and ecommerce website.
Palm said it will work with Dell to support growing demand by large corporate users. This puts Dell squarely in competition in the PDA market with Houston-based Compaq, which is one of the hardware manufacturers backing the PocketPC.
Palm executives said the deal with Dell will "significantly augment" the sales organisation behind its product line and help expansion into the enterprise market. "Dell's endorsement of the Palm platform and products is an important advance for corporations, government agencies and educational institutions seeking to standardise, manage and deploy Palm handheld computers in their organisations," said Greg Rhine, vice president of worldwide sales for Palm.
In a related development, Research In Motion (RIM) in Ontario said it has introduced an enhanced, Palm-size version of its popular Blackberry two-way pager, which features a Palm-size screen. New features include a larger keyboard, 5MB flash memory and an internal wireless modem. Dell also has an agreement to resell RIM devices, forged after the widespread adoption of the older Blackberry by top Dell executives, according to a Dell spokesman.
Both versions of the Blackberry currently run on an old 386 chip from Intel, but Intel executives told a group of editors from IDG earlier this week that they had reached an agreement with RIM to help put Pentium processors into RIM devices.
Semico Research projects that the PDA market will generate $US2.8 billion in revenue this year, up 40 per cent, or $800 million, from 1999. Dataquest said the PDA market produced 8.2 million units in 1998 and will jump to 32.5 million units in 2003.