3Com names Palm Computing president

In a defensive move against the looming onslaught of Microsoft CE-based handheld devices, 3Com taps Robin Abrams as president of Palm Computing, the maker of the popular PalmPilot device.

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In a move to build up its defenses against the looming onslaught of Microsoft CE-based handheld devices, 3Com tapped Robin Abrams as president of Palm Computing, the makers of the popular PalmPilot device.

Abrams will join the company on February 12 and will also be senior vice president at 3Com. Currently, Abrams is president and CEO of at VeriFone, a Hewlett-Packard subsidiary.

Although the PalmPilot easily continued to dominate the handheld field in 1998 with nearly 80 percent of the market, analysts have cautioned that this market share is likely to slide as Microsoft releases a flurry of palm-devices based on its CE operating software. Other companies, including Casio, Philips, Everex, Compaq Computer, and Hewlett-Packard, have also entered the field.

It is against this rising tide that Abrams is chartered with extending Palm Computing's leadership in the worldwide handheld computing market. She will report directly to Bruce Claflin, 3Com president and chief operating officer.

"Today, Palm Computing is nothing short of a phenomenon, and its potential is even more exciting," Abrams said in a statement."It is clearly the computing platform play for the next millennium, changing forever the way people and businesses think about connectivity."

Also, in November, less than a year after 3Com acquired Palm Computing, Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky, founders of handheld computer giant PalmPilot, left the company for their new venture, Handspring. The new company has already attracted much attention by industry watchers awaiting what products the brains behind the PalmPilot will develop next.

Abrams has nearly 25 years of computing and computer services expertise coupled with strategic planning and management experience. 3Com said that since joining VeriFone in March 1997, Abrams has extended the company's presence to 7 million merchants while shepherding the company's worldwide transition from a hardware- to software-based enterprise.

Abrams also spent five years at Apple Computer in a variety of executive sales and marketing positions. Beginning her career at Apple as vice president of marketing for Apple Pacific, 3Com said that Abrams and her team grew Apple's Japanese business dramatically and extended Apple's presence into China and India.

"Robin's wealth of computing and management experience will enable Palm Computing to not only take its growth to the next level, but also further 3Com's vision of pervasive connectivity," Claflin said in a statement. "Palm Computing is a profitable, high-growth business that is clearly a key component of 3Com's overall strategy."