Tries to Take the Desktop in Hand
- October 27th, 1999
3Com's Palm Computing offspring will stand or fall on the willingness of large
corporate IS groups to embrace an array of new devices, from personal digital
assistants to cellular phones, that use the Palm operating system as their basic
This week the
company, which will be spun off from parent 3Com early next year, will take
a giant step in its effort to shift from gadget maker to systems vendor.
99, the company will unveil server software that lets Palm devices bypass the
PC entirely and exchange data with back-end databases and applications. With
this product, called Palm HotSync Server, will be a pack of Palm and third-party
interfaces, called "conduits," that handle the data exchange between Palm applications
and a specific server-based enterprise resource planning suite or groupware
application, for example.
This is an
attempt to create a new corporate market segment, one "below" the current notebook/portable
segment. Part of the focus is on lowering TCO1, since some estimates
place TCO of networked Windows PCs at approximately $10,000/year. Although Gartner
estimates Palm TCO at an unexpectedly high $2700/year (a figure we question),
this figure is still significantly lower than for the traditional desktop.
of a Palm device to link with enterprise-class applications such as ERP2
or groupware, if successfully implemented, means the Palm can now move "out
of the shirt pocket and onto the desktop" (in a limited way). This will increase
market growth for Palm devices, and palmtops in general, but it will not lead
to faster market consolidation. Because a new segment is being created, it will
initially lead to market diversification. Overall, we expect these devices to
eat into some of the desktop space over the next two years.
to the obvious increase in the hardware and software market segments, there
will be a "pull" effect on the security and service/support markets desktop-
and server-focused markets which presently pay little attention to Palm devices.
This set of
product has the potential of creating a shift in the current business computing
model, by migrating the desktop down to the palmtop. However, as with all new
technologies/models, users should be cautious about planning a wholesale change
before having proof that the product(s) provide all the functionality expected,
handle all the applications necessary, work robustly within a (limited) corporate
environment, and operate seamlessly within a corporate network.
Even if these
products meet all the criteria above, Palm devices will still only be viable
for some targeted environments (because of their obvious limitations). Users
planning to purchase equipment immediately will not be affected by this announcement.
Companies planning their purchases for mid-2000, and who have done sufficient
analysis of their needs and usage patterns, should consider this alternative.
Total Cost of Ownership
2ERP: Enterprise Resource Planning