Symbol Technologies Inc. next week will introduce software that lets IT managers centrally upgrade mobile operating systems and distribute applications to mobile devices over a WLAN.
The AirBeam Smart software requires only an FTP or Trivial FTP server and will work over 802.11b, 802.11a or Home RF, all of which work faster than a standard serial port connection through a docking station.
By eliminating any need for serial connections via docking stations, the software saves companies time in terms of management and data speed, said Symbol officials in Holtsville, N.Y.
"If you cradle Pocket PC devices, its a 45-minute effort [to update an operating system]," said Mike Hulthen, vice president of product development for Symbols Integrated Systems Division. "Over AirBeam, its 4 minutes."
J.C. Penney Co. Inc., of Plano, Texas, for example, is using AirBeam to download the entire store chains price file in less than 2 minutes, which otherwise would have required 20 minutes per terminal through a cradle. The update happens automatically whenever users are within range of the WLAN (wireless LAN).
"Our clients tend to be in a blue-collar, work-oriented space," Hulthen said. "There may be a thousand terminals that have to be updated at a time."
Sears, Roebuck and Co. has deployed the software on 15,000 Palm Inc.-based devices, and the companys systems director said it is much easier now to fix bugs and to justify varying applications. Employees use AirBeam to receive new versions of the Web client and, occasionally, the entire flash ROM image of the latest version of Palms Palm OS.
"The store doesnt have to worry about which updates do I need and whats old and whats new," said Ed Dudek, application development specialist at Sears, in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
The software, based on technology that Symbol acquired when it bought Telxon Corp. in late 2000, supports DOS, Microsoft Corp.s embedded CE and Pocket PC, and Palm OS. Symbol plans to install the AirBeam client in the majority of future Palm- or Pocket PC-based products, officials said. For now, the software is available through a software license. Pricing averages $25 per client.
Subsequent versions of the software will support Symbols voice-over-IP products. Symbol is also considering making the software available for use on Palm- and Pocket PC-based hardware from other companies, but that is not likely before the third quarter, officials said.