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Palm Takes Aim At The Enterprise With Acquisition

Palm Inc. furthered its ambitions in the enterprise space Wednesday with a deal that will help it create enterprise servers that can wirelessly push e-mail and messaging to Palm wireless handhelds.

Palm signed a definitive agreement to acquire privately held ThinAirApps, developer of solutions for secure wireless access to corporate e-mail and other enterprise data, for about $19 million in stock.

"Acquiring ThinAirApps is a lynchpin of our long-term enterprise and wireless strategies," said Todd Bradley, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Palm's Solutions Group. "This move, combined with our previous acquisition of Actual Software Corporation, will give us the server-side and client-side software needed to provide integrated, end-to-end messaging solutions for the enterprise customer in our next-generation wireless products, and, ultimately, to expand the benefits of wireless to ever broader markets."

Palm said it expects to hold onto most of ThinAirApp's employees, especially the engineering team. Palm is already a licensee of New York-based ThinAirApp's groupware technology, which allows its employees in the U.S. access to Microsoft Outlook functions -- including calendar, e-mail, contacts, tasks and notes -- on their wireless Palm VII handhelds. Additionally, Palm has been working with ThinAirApps for the past year to develop server technologies for Palm's next-generation, behind-the-firewall e-mail and messaging solutions.

"This move by Palm's Solutions Group will give ThinAirApps access to an installed base of potentially millions of handheld users going wireless in the next phase of the handheld revolution," said Jon Oakes, chairman, president and chief executive officer of ThinAirApps. "With the addition of ThinAirApps technologies to Palm's own e-mail client software, notification and push technologies, Palm will rise to the top of the short list for enterprises going mobile."

Palm said it expects to close the deal by the end of the calendar year.