Good to Turn a Handheld into a Laptop

Good Technology on Tuesday surprised the market with a move that could provide a laptop experience on a handheld computer. This 'Good thing' could make the company the Microsoft for wireless messaging on handheld computers.

For a long while Ive been dependent on my Research In Motion Blackberry and its clear to me that our relationship isnt what it once was. What is driving me nuts right now, and certainly an increasing number of other folks, is that the RIM software doesnt work properly with Microsoft Office 2003.

The word "properly" here means that supposed benefits such as caching (no Exchange wait states) and spam control dont work. In other words, Im finding my RIM to be much like a teenage offspring, you want them around but you increasingly dont want to live with them.

Unfortunately, while I appreciate Palm- and Microsoft-based devices, the handheld I cant live without is the RIM Blackberry, simply because the RIM gets me my mail when everything else fails. In my line of work, and perhaps yours, getting that mail is incredibly important.

At the same time, while the RIM device is a wireless e-mail powerhouse, it gains lackluster reviews for most other tasks. Wireless Center


The result of the RIM Blackberrys single-minded purpose means I cant do all of the other increasingly wonderful things that a Windows Mobile or Palm Source device can do such as listen to music, look at pictures or play videos.

However, the Good Technology Group on Tuesday announced that they had a solution to end my pain. Good Technologys announcement of GoodLink 3.0, a product that will enable smart phones and PDAs to become a more valid (and vastly less-expensive) alternative to laptop computers.

GoodLink 3.0 (which I havent tried) will allows me to get an even better experience off of my Windows Mobile (formerly called PocketPC) or PalmSource devices than I currently get with my RIM Blackberry.

Version 3.0 will mirror my laptop interface in how I can open and use attachments (and will even work with rich attachments like Excel files). It will provide multi-tasking capabilities, letting me leave an e-mail open, check an appointment, and then go back to that open message—a feature we RIM users have longed for. And it actually will work with Office 2003, so I can turn the key features back on.

What makes Goods approach particularly powerful is they will make GoodLink device agnostic. The company offers its own devices, but it will focus on enabling the devices from others.

Moving between vendors in this way is what helped make Microsoft the company it is today, and, if done properly, can generally result in a very positive (and lucrative) response from customers.

Some of the largest companies in their respective industries, including Starbucks, Electronic Arts, SpencerStuart, Unum Provident and Ferguson, also stood up today and voiced their strong support for this move with mentions of their own trials and deployments.

While Dell, Microsoft, PalmSource, PalmOne, and VeriSign all shared the stage for todays announcements, expect companies like Hewlett-Packard, Acer America, and Gateway to roll on GoodLink 3.0 aggressively as well.

What makes Goods announcement so powerful isnt the technology, it is the companys realization that the power is not in building and controlling a vertical solution as Apple has done. Instead, a greater position can be gained by moving between vendors and possibly controlling the resulting standards, a la Microsoft.

Of course, Good Technology still has to execute on this plan, and RIM wont take this lying down; RIM has signaled, but not executed, a similar move.

But Good has first-mover advantage, and the company appears to be addressing the critical demand issues of the segment. The end result may be a handheld computer or smart phone that we can actually use, replacing a laptop computer for many applications.

And that would be great, for while I still love my new Ferrari notebook computer, I havent figured out a way to get it into my shirt pocket.

Rob Enderle is the principal analyst for the Enderle Group, a company specializing in emerging personal technology.