"Messaging in general and e-mail specifically" remain the killer applications in the mobile world, but that may soon change, David Nagel, president and CEO of PalmSource Inc., said at Research in Motion Ltd.s third annual Wireless Enterprise Symposium.
The Palm OS is experiencing "enormous support by developers" and Palm has seen an acceleration in sign-ups to the tune of 2,000 new developers per week "and a large portion are in the enterprise," Nagel told the 1,600 attendees of the symposium in Chicago Tuesday. Palm, he said, has so far signed up more than 330,000 developers to create applications for the operating system.
Custom applications, designed for specific purposes, "are dramatically changing customer satisfaction and, interestingly enough, the nature of the work itself," Nagel said.
He cited a case study from the health care industry in which a medical sales organization developed a mobile application to check inventory and purchase and delivery information to replace a phone-based system that required 354 telephone representatives. The corporate developers were able to create an application that allowed sales representatives to check orders directly during their visits with physicians and instantly report on whether certain drugs were in stock and when delivery was possible.
Such applications, Nagel said, "creates enormous increases in the average revenue per user and, in some cases, lowers support costs."
According to Nagel, Palm devices average fewer than two support calls per user. "Ease of use does matter," he said, "and has a big impact on how these devices are deployed."
Nagel cited a recent survey, commissioned by Palm, that shows the company to be the dominant leader in the sale of handhelds to small-to-midsized businesses, "and as companies get larger were the leader but not by the same degree," he said. In the enterprise, Palm faces fierce competition from Microsoft Corp., with its Windows CE platform.
"About 80 percent of our devices end up being used in the enterprise," Nagel said. "Theyre purchased by individuals and brought there."
PalmSource has partnered with IBM, adopting Eclipse as its development platform. And it has partnered with RIM in a joint development effort to provide connections into the BlackBerry Enterprise Server and the BlackBerry Web client from Palm OS devices.
Those who prefer data-centric devices, he said, should buy a BlackBerry. Those who prefer a phone-based solution should opt for Palm.
Nagel advised enterprises looking into mobile solutions to "embrace them and begin to get control of them. Choose [the devices] carefully because youll live with that choice for a long time … and begin to think about how you can actually change the work of the corporation. "
The symposium, sponsored by RIM, continues through Thursday.