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Palm launches ads aimed at CIOs

The handheld maker launches an advertising campaign targeted at executives, chief information officers and other IT personnel, an attempt to lure more corporate clients.

Palm launched a splashy advertising campaign Monday aimed at senior executives, chief information officers and other IT personnel, in an attempt to lure more corporate clients.

Though Palm leads the consumer market in handheld devices, Research In Motion's BlackBerry device and Microsoft's Pocket PC devices appear to be more common in the corporate world, though there are no statistics to prove it.

"There's just anecdotal evidence," said Michael Buhr, Palm's senior director of Enterprise Marketing.

Buhr said the campaign, which debuted Monday with a three-quarter page ad in The Wall Street Journal, will also appear in magazines such as BusinessWeek, Fortune and niche publications like Information Week and CIO Insight, and are aimed at educating corporate buyers about the advantages of using Palm devices in the workplace.

The ads will also direct readers to the company's Web site, which has a recently developed section aimed at corporate buyers. The site offers clients the ability to customize their purchases according to industry, such as health care, manufacturing or financial services, and it has special offers for customers buying handhelds in bulk.

Palm is emphasizing ease of use and a lower cost of ownership as its main advantages over other handheld devices for corporate clients. An internal study showed that after tallying costs for purchase, training, repairs, software and support, Palm handhelds came out ahead of the Pocket PC, according to Buhr.

Buhr shrugged off claims that corporations would be more likely to go with devices on a Microsoft platform to complement their Windows desktops. "Integration with the back-end infrastructure is more important," he said. The new ad campaign also touts Palm's partnerships with Siebel Systems, IBM, McKesson and BEA Systems, under which the companies work to integrate Palm's technology with their software.

Palm CEO Eric Benhamou had emphasized Palm's effort to move into the business market at a JP Morgan H&Q conference earlier this month, according to one of the equity research firm's analysts, Paul Coster. Coster said in a recent research note that the move would help increase sales and decrease the seasonality of Palm's business, which comes in spurts around Christmas and other holidays.

Buhr said another big advantage in gaining corporate customers is Palm's ability to sell a package of other products and services including training, support and software.