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Palm Tabs COO Bradley to Head Hardware Group

The stars are aligning for the division of Palm Inc. into two entities. The Santa Clara, Calif. concern chose Chief Operating Officer Todd Bradley as president of its Solutions Group, where he will be expected to make sales blossom for its industry-leading handheld gadgets despite stiff competition from Handspring Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

The move is seemingly the completion of the handheld maker's restructuring into two separate units -- hardware and software. David C. Nagel was lured from AT&T Corp. in August 2001 to run the company's PalmSource unit, which covers the licensing of its software platform to the enterprise.

In addition to device responsibilities, Bradley is in charge of the company's software that goes on the devices, such as enterprise e-mail software, and add-ons, such as keyboards and SD Card and MultiMediaCard expansion cards. While Nagel's PalmSource group strictly targets the licensing of the Palm operating system to other rival handheld makers, Bradley's task is to target the gamut of handheld customers, including consumers and the enterprise.

Bradley, 43, served as executive vice president of global operations at Gateway Inc. before joining Palm in June 2001.

"This appointment reflects the board's confidence in Todd's leadership and recognizes him for his team's operational contributions over the last three quarters," said Eric Benhamou, Palm chairman of the board and chief executive officer.

Palm claims it has shipped more than 17 million of its own gadgets to date, but its PalmOS has found its way in some 21 million handhelds. But 2001 was a rough year for hardware vendors and Palm was no exception. Palm and its primary licensee, Handspring's , suffered from declining market share as handhelds using Microsoft's Pocket PC platform appeared to be gaining momentum.

Still, 2002 is a new year, and Gartner Dataquest predicts positive growth for the handheld market. The research firm projects 15.5 million PDAs will be shipped in 2002, an 18 percent increase from 2001 shipments of 13 million units. In 2001, the industry experienced a similar growth rate of 18.3 percent, but this was well below 2000 shipment growth of 114 percent.

Not surprisingly, Gartner analysts expect handhelds will shine brightest in the corporate sector.

"Roughly three-fourths of all PDAs purchased worldwide in 2001 were sold to individuals who bought them with their own funds, and the remainder were purchased or reimbursed by enterprises," said Todd Kort, principal analyst for Gartner Dataquest's Computing Platforms Worldwide group. "The increasing capabilities of these devices and the growing availability of wireless technologies are beginning to stimulate large corporate purchases as solid productivity gains are realized, based on applications such as wireless e-mail or accessing corporate databases from remote locations."