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Palm'sTungsten and MIMS target RIM's LIMs

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No sooner was the ink dry on the previews of Palm's new wireless plans, than the company delivered details of branding and the server software part of the puzzle today.

Palm will divide its PDA lines into business and consumer offerings, Tungsten and Zire, the former complementing the new Tungsten server-side software you can now read about here.

The centerpiece of the Tungsten software is MIMS (Mobile Information Management Server); we're not sure if this is intended as a deliberate echo of LIM (Lawsuits in Motion), as RIM (Research in Motion) is becoming known. RIM has carved a niche of more than 350,000 users for its always-on super-pager.

The services part of Tungsten is at least as important as the client hardware to Palm - RIM derives the largest chunk of its revenue, 41 per cent, from service.

Meanwhile Palm fan sites at the weekend were commenting on mock-ups of what appear to be the first models in each range. If these are to be believed, the "Tungsten T" is smaller, and slightly heavier than the current Palm flagship with a slide-down case revealing the graffiti area. If that's the swan, then the The "Tungsten W" is the ugly duckling - a smartphone intended to feel comfortable to BlackBerry users, rather than as a replacement handset. (You need an earpiece to make calls, according to the leaks, but this might not be such a hindrance if Palm can get Bluetooth headsets to co-operate. The BlackBerry isn't a phone).

It also uses LIM's ground-breaking, and potentially Nobel Prize-winning innovation - the VSK (very small keyboard) - for which LIM was granted a patent last week, with which it used to sue Handspring the following day.

Palm will explain this coming Thursday, when it opens the doors of its new Sunnyvale campus to world+vulture.

Clearing the decks of bad news ahead of the open day, Palm took a charge of $219.1m in quarterly results it announced yesterday. Net loss excluding this charge was $36.4 million, not bad for a stagnating market in which Palm still managed to shift 819,000 PDAs. Inventory is 6.5 weeks, suggesting that Palm cut its cloth to meet demand. But then again, that's $44 lost on every PDA shipped, which doesn't look so great. It'll be hoping the rebound starts here. ®

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