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Palm sets sights on corporate customers

On the eve of the first day of its annual developer's conference, Palm Computing announces several new products geared at attracting large corporate customers.

On the eve of the first day of its annual developer's conference, Palm Computing today announced several new products geared at attracting large corporate customers.

The news comes as the company prepares for its PalmSource developer's conference, which kicks off tomorrow in Santa Clara, California. At the event, new licensees like TRG and Handspring will show off their new Palm clones, and third party software developers will demonstrate new security and connectivity products.

At the top of the list is Palm Computing's suite of "enterprise" or business-focused software and products designed to make it simple for companies to purchase and support PalmPilot handhelds for their employees.

Toward that end, Palm today announced Palm HotSync server software, the Palm ethernet cradle, and new classes and services to help companies implement the products.

PalmPilots share information with the desktop PC using the HotSync software and cradle, which connects the computer to the handheld. Palm has expanded the concept to fit larger companies with a client-server network.

Under Palm's new vision, companies that install the new HotSync server software will be able to distribute corporate applications and information directly to the PalmPilot, rather than using the PC as a conduit for data.

To enable this scenario, Palm also today announced the Palm Ethernet cradle, which allows much faster data transfer than typical Palm cradles. In addition, the new cradle allows the Palm device to synchronize directly with the server, rather than with a desktop PC.

"Palm is dedicated to helping enterprise organizations realize the potential for handheld computing and reap significant gains in productivity and competitiveness throughout their organizations," Palm president Alan Kessler said in a statement.

Palm has previously stated that large corporate customers are a potentially lucrative target market for the handheld company, which has sold the majority of its products to individual customers. As the devices have become more popular among employees, large companies have wasted valuable resources by not supporting the technology in an efficient and organized manner, according to a recent report form Gartner Group.

Palm also expanded its support services today, announcing the Palm Help Desk Training program, which will provide online, telephone, and in-person resources for companies using Palm devices.

In other handheld news today, Motorola announced the new version of its Dragonball processor. The new 33MHz Dragonball VZ processor runs at twice the speed of the existing Dragonball EZ, and supports color displays for the first time. Devices running on Palm's operating system use this Motorola processor.

Handhelds using Microsoft's Windows CE operating system have offered color displays for 6 months, but Palm has held off on releasing products with color displays, claiming that the technology is too bulky, heavy, and battery draining at this point.