Palm knuckles up to Gartner, sucks up to Big Biz

Vibrant, Growing yet Balanced

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Palm CEO Carl Yankowski today tried to reassure investors that Palm is not losing its grip on the handheld market.

While the industry waited for Palm to reveal its fourth quarter earnings, due this afternoon, Yankowski kicked off the keynote speeches at this week'sPC Expo trade show, now merged into Technology Exchange Week New York.

The Palm leader said the company's strategy was to push its handheld devices from personal to business use. In particular, Palm wants to get big businesses on board, as well as hospitals and universities.

The Californian company also used the event to announce a handful of business deals. Accounting giant Pricewaterhouse Coopers is to market Palm handhelds to its consulting customers - the two companies aim to get businesses to integrate existing IT systems with handhelds. They also plan to develop products to give businesses mobile access to software such as CRM and ERP.

And Palm will sell server software from Extended Systems, a company Palm previously tried to buy, plus a partnership with Panasonic to flog the Secure Digital expansion slot.

Meanwhile, Palm attacked a Gartner report issued last week, which claimed Compaq would beat Palm on PDA revenue. Palm execs questioned the mathematics of the report, and expressed surprise that Gartner had issued the report during Palm's quiet period.

Yankowski was unable to comment further on the report, but said Palm handheld sales figures would be released today.

He also used the speech to bash Palm rival Microsoft. While Palm has shipped 15 million of its devices, a number likely to be updated later today, he pointed out that just one million handhelds had been shipped based on the PocketPC architecture. Not exactly comparing like with like, is it - Gartner's referring to new sales, not to installed base.

Yankowski described the Palm economy as "vibrant and growing" - adding that the previously announced job cuts meant Palm was now more "balanced".

He emphasised again that the company's future strategy lay in making people aware of what the company's handhelds are capable of at the enterprise business level. ®

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