Formerly bitter rivals Palm and Microsoft announced an alliance this week in hopes of strengthening both companies in smartphone technology, devices that combine mobile phone functionality and Internet connectivity.
So what makes two enemies that have fought fiercely over the mobile handset space come together? The answer is market and money, Ovum Vice President of wireless telecoms Roger Entner told TechNewsWorld.
“I think it clearly shows a few things: One, that money is more important than egos,” Entner said. “Microsoft and Palm used to butt heads with each other. That is not happening anymore.”
Palm and Microsoft said in a statement that their collaboration will result in more choices for customers and “marks a dedicated effort to deliver one of the world’s most innovative smartphone solutions on the software platform favored by many businesses.”
The companies indicated that the new line of Treo smartphones will be capable of mobile telephony, e-mail, messaging and Web surfing via Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 5.0.
The new smartphones, to be available early next year, will be wirelessly enabled through Verizon’s EV-DO wireless broadband network.
“We’ve long believed that the future of personal computing is mobile computing, and our collaboration with Microsoft is an historic step in delivering that vision to a larger market,” said a statement from Palm President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Colligan.
Entner indicated the deal also highlighted the influence a wireless carrier such as Verizon can have, now that mobility and wireless computing have evolved.
“They certainly match the two together,” he said. “Microsoft and Palm are significant customers to Verizon.”
The deal also showed consolidation in the smartphone market, resembling the PC industry, according to Entner.
“It’s becoming more and more like the desktop computer market, where there are many vendors making hardware and few vendors making software,” he said.
Death by Disconnection
Entner also said the deal reiterates the point that “the unconnected PDA is dead.”
“Certainly, that has been the situation for a while,” he said. “Palm’s operating system (OS) was dominant on the unconnected side. Then, suddenly, things become connected and it was a whole new ballgame.”
Entner added that Palm’s move to Microsoft and Windows Mobile 5.0, which provides direct access to Exchange Server 2003, also provides for better IT continuity, which is attractive to businesses.
“I don’t think it’s the end of the Palm OS,” he said. “But it’s a disappointing day for Palm OS.”
Market in BlackBerry Patch
Yankee Group senior analyst John Jackson told TechNewsWorld that the success of RIM’s BlackBerry and similar handheld devices capable of Internet connectivity indicates that “connectivity is king.”
Jackson said the value proposition of the PDA now lies in connectivity, rather than the personal information management and PC sync capabilities of yesterday’s PDA.
“End users are gravitating to the value added services that offer this connectivity associated with the device out of the box,” he said.