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Palm Shapes Future With Partnerships

New York – Palm announced several partnerships to help the ailing handheld leader forge inroads into the potentially lucrative enterprise market, yesterday including arrangements with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Extended Systems.

In addition the company continues to push sales at retail announcing that it has begun selling Palm m100, m105 and IIIc models through all 860 Sears locations, following a test trial at 100 Sears locations late last year.

Palm also announced an alliance with Panasonic to push acceptance of the Secure Digital (SD) format used in the new m500 series Palm handhelds. The two companies expect to promote the SD format through joint advertising in the US and both Palm and Panasonic demonstrated the ability to shuttle photos seamlessly between a Panasonic SD digital camera and Palm handheld, during Palm CEO Carl Yankowski’s keynote address at PC Expo (now called TechXNY) yesterday.

Palm announced that it will work with accounting firm PrciewaterhouseCoopers to offer its clients mobile computing business solutions using Palm handhelds. The two companies have developed a ‘behind-the-firewall’ mobile handheld business solution tailored around Palm technology which will be offered to clients.

In addition, Palm announced it will sell Extended Systems’ XTNDConnect Server Software under the Palm brand. The software provides behind-the-firewall server access to mobile handhelds.

In his keynote address, Yankowski took several potshots at the Microsoft-based Windows CE Pocket PC camp, affirming a race between the formats to dominate the enterprise market which is growing twice as fast as the general handheld market, according to Yankowski.

Industry analysts and Pocket PC suppliers claim that the more powerful processor in Pocket PCs combined with their compatibility with Microsoft back-ithend systems give the Pocket PC camp a leg up in the enterprise market. Yankowski, however, stressed that the simplicity of the Palm OS will result in lower cost of ownership, including lower costs to train users and maintain the products. ‘More power in the processor means little when the handheld has to plow through a heavy OS when you are on the go,’ said Yankowski ‘We have the fastest, most versatile, easy to use OS for a handheld and it will only get better as we move forward.’

He further claimed that Palm is more compatible with certain Microsoft back end product than Microsoft based Pocket PCs.