Treo Aimed at Wireless Apps

Handspring gears its Treo phone, pager and PDA device to the enterprise; partners will co-market other offerings.

In forming partnerships with corporate software developers, handheld device maker Handspring Inc. is making a play for the enterprise.

The Mountain View, Calif., company at Comdex in Las Vegas this week will try to woo corporate users with new package deals that combine wireless middleware solutions with its Treo device, which combines a phone, pager and personal digital assistant.

The Treo is due next year, when officials expect the companys corporate strategy to begin jelling.

"The theme for the company at Comdex is Treo," said Ed Colligan, chief operating officer at Handspring. "We believe that this is a really compelling enterprise device for wireless voice and data."

Handspring, Colligan said, will hold seminars for corporate customers at Comdex to explain how they can capitalize on the partnerships the company is forming with companies already in the corporate wireless arena.

Handspring and Extended Systems Inc. last week announced plans to co-market the formers Visor and Treo devices with the latters XtndConnect Server, which enables wireless synchronization between handheld devices and corporate servers. In addition to selling each others products, the companies plan to develop training programs for corporate customers new to the world of wireless. Extended Systems, of Boise, Idaho, will participate in Handsprings first enterprise training event, which will be held at Comdex, officials said.

Handspring has also announced an agreement with Synchrologic Inc., of Alpharetta, Ga., to market its devices with Synchrologics iMobile Suite software, which enables wireless access to groupware, sales force automation and customer relationship management data. The companies will offer "one tap" access from Handspring devices to the corporate applications, officials said.

Meanwhile, Visto Corp. last week announced a similar relationship with Handspring to sell its e-mail software with Handspring devices. Late last month, Visto, of Mountain View, Calif., announced plans to develop software for the Treo that will enable wireless access to corporate e-mail.

Customers said package deals are a good option. "I would always want to consider the software and hardware together if allowed," said Nicholas Gass, systems administrator at Color Kinetics Inc., in Boston. Gass said a device such as the Treo sounds ideal for his sales force. "If I were rolling these things out, Id want to do it right, and that means software and hardware," he said.

Handsprings Colligan said more partnerships with enterprise software developers will be rolling out throughout the year. He acknowledged that the majority will be sales and marketing agreements, rather than development agreements; the Treo device runs on Palm Inc.s Palm OS, and Palm already has an established development community. But he said he hopes the mere existence of the Treo will encourage development of corporate applications.

"I think as we build critical mass in the enterprise with the Treo, youll see more applications," Colligan said. "It takes a breakthrough device to get developers going."