Palm CEO Nagel Talks Up Back-Office Connectivity

In his Comdex keynote on Wednesday, PalmSource CEO David Nagel said the company is focused on improving network and wireless connectivity for handhelds.

LAS VEGAS—In his keynote address at Fall Comdex 2003 here on Wednesday, PalmSource Inc. CEO David Nagel discussed the importance of back-office connectivity in the world of handheld computing.

"Something we should have paid more attention to earlier was the importance of connectivity," he said, referring to the PDA market in its early years. "By providing the connectivity, the networking, the device was enormously more valuable."

Nagel said the importance of connectivity, especially wireless connectivity, was what prompted the companys latest initiative, Palm Powered MobileWorld that Nagel announced on Monday.

The program gives operators the opportunity to collaborate with PalmSource to make sure their feedback is integral in developing the Palm OS platform. Sprint PCS Group, which sells several Palm OS-based phones, is the first carrier partner in the program. Sprint will work with PalmSource on making sure applications that run over the OS also run well over Sprints network.

"If youre a carrier you dont want anything that will break your network," Nagel said.

Nagel discussed several case studies that illustrated how Palm OS-based devices helped businesses run more efficiently. For example, one company that specializes in coordinating organ donor matches is replaced its phone-and-fax system with the Handspring Treo 600, cutting information processing time from twenty minutes to two, he said.

"IT people and business professionals in general are beginning to discover how mobile devices can change their businesses," he said. "The whole chain of getting information, converting into knowledge and acting on it is clearly shortened."

Nagel said PalmSource is working to improve support of enterprise wireless applications, which means not just gaining carrier support but maintaining computability with enterprise applications, even those from PalmSources chief competitor, Microsoft Corp.

"Were compatible with the desktop, we are compatible with Outlook, and we will be compatible with future Microsoft products," he said.

He also said that the company will make sure that the Palm OS will always run on every Palm-based device. This contrasts with Microsoft Corp., which has several versions of its operating systems for several types of devices.

Nagel also discussed the next version of the Palm OS. Code-named Sahara, Palm OS Version 6.0 improves upon multimedia and security features. It will ship to licensees within a few weeks, Nagel said.

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