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Palm losing out as iPhone gains corporate fans

Corporate IT spending is falling like the stock market, but Apple's share of the growing smartphone market is increasing among business customers, says ChangeWave.

The Palm Treo 750, Palm's flagship product the last time it was a major player in corporate smartphones almost two years ago. CNET

Perhaps no one has benefited as much from the downfall of the Treo than Apple.

On Thursday, ChangeWave released the results of an otherwise dismal survey predicting a tough time ahead for anyone who relies on corporate IT spending for their livelihood. But the news was good for those in the smartphone business not named Palm; smartphone shipments to U.S. corporations are expected to grow even as overall IT spending falls.

And Apple's iPhone is seeing the bulk of the growth, according to ChangeWave. Companies still love Research in Motion's BlackBerry, as we covered earlier this month, but the iPhone is picking up ground. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said they planned to buy BlackBerrys for their employees in the next quarter, compared with 22 percent who plan on buying iPhones and just 5 percent planning on buying a Palm product. That compares August results that had RIM at 79 percent, Apple at 17 percent, and Palm at 6 percent. The results indicate that some companies are buying smartphones from more than one vendor, as last week's report on the iPhone in business noted as a growing trend.

The survey fails to break out results by operating system, which shafts Windows Mobile to some degree. Microsoft has been losing share to the iPhone overall, but smartphones that use Windows Mobile are still the second-most widely used phones inside corporations, according to J.Gold Associates. However, since that operating system is spread across so many different handset makers, no one handset maker is outpacing the three mentioned in the survey.

Palm has been trying to make a comeback with products like the Centro and Treo Pro, but Centro is a consumer-oriented product and the Treo Pro doesn't seem to have set the world afire.

In February 2007, Palm was on the shopping lists of 22 percent of companies surveyed by ChangeWave. Times have changed.