RealTime IT News

Palm Acquires E-Mail Solution Provider

Handheld computer maker Palm Inc. Tuesday grabbed privately-held Actual Software Corp. in another move to catch the attention of mobile wireless users.

The deal, for which Palm yielded $4 million worth of cash and stock, will close in the fourth quarter.

Already a leading provider of e-mail solutions for the Palm operating system, Actual will now better enable Palm to provide handheld computer customers with a universal e-mail client.

As a result of the acquisition, Palm will roll out integrated solutions that include Actual Software's client and conduit technology to reach these goals and deliver enhanced e-mail solutions across its product line.

Palm will also put Actual's MultiMail products to use. This suite offers enterprise and consumers an e-mail client and conduit solution, making direct access to POP3 and IMAP4 mail systems possible while also supporting mail access via Palm's HotSync technology.

MultiMail enables a mobile user to sort, file and manage e-mail, in addition to simple read/reply/forward capabilities.

Alan Kessler, chief operating officer of Palm's platform and products unit, said the deal will quickly boost improvements to its handheld computing and communications.

"This acquisition brings Palm not only world-class e-mail clients and conduits today, but also some of the industry's top talent and engineering expertise to help us drive the development of next-generation handheld mail and messaging solutions," Kessler said.

Actual Software employees will continue to work from current headquarters in Andover, Mass. Palm intends to continue to sell Actual Software's products independently for the near term and expects to deliver new products under the Palm brand.

Palm's acquisition is the firm's second as well as the second in as many weeks. Last Wednesday, the company grabbed personal calendar provider Anyday.com for $80 million in cash and stock.

Jane Zweig, vice president for Shosteck Associates, said the deal was an obvious way for Palm to extend its platform into the wide-open wireless realm and make it more useful.

"It's consistent with what other wireless players have been doing in bringing the Internet 'anytime, anywhere'," Zweig said. "It's an open world in wireless right now. It will be interesting to see what traditional wireless firms such as Motorola and Nokia do beyond bringing Net access to cell phones."

David Pogue, author of PalmPilot: The Ultimate Guide, also agreed with the firm's strategy.

"The key to the Palm platform's success has been the simplicity of its hardware. In the face of mounting Microsoft competitive pressure, Palm wants to make the platform even stronger -- without gumming up its famously clean hardware design," Pogue said. "So it makes sense that all of its big strategic moves have to do with software enhancements like e-mail and calendaring."