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RealTime IT News

Handspring, Aether Forge Enterprise Alliance Program

Mountain View, Calif.'s Handspring Wednesday continued its dealings with wireless solution providers when it inked a sales and marketing relationship with Owings Mills, Md.'s Aether Systems to improve its service for its flagship Visor handheld line.

Though financial terms of the deal were not made public, Aether and Handspring will deliver enterprise solutions based on Aether Fusion, a technology foundation designed to adapt business applications wirelessly to handheld devices through a combination of components, hosting services, synchronization, device management and Aether's Intelligent Messaging (AIM) data transport layer.

Key benefits of the relationship include joint efforts in product certification, evaluation, testing, training and sales.

Handspring, whose Visor family depends on hardware rival Palm Inc.'s industry-leading operating system, feels its handhelds pose an attractive value proposition in the enterprise market because of its PDAs' Springboard expansion slots, for which there are more than 60 modules on the market today. This, the firm argues, makes the Visor a flexible, cost-saving product for IT departments.

Lee Epting, director of Enterprise Sales for Handspring, talked about the nascent mobile computing enterprise sector.

"IT managers, CIOs and practice leaders are looking for ways to increase the value of their mobile work force and integrated handheld solutions are often the answer," Epting said. "We recognize that the hardware is only one piece of the equation -- tailored wireless applications and services must also be provided, serviced and deployed. Aether is an industry leader in this area and a great partner."

Indeed, Gartner Dataquest's Todd Kort, principal analyst of the research firm's Computing Platform Worldwide group, recently discussed the impact mobile computing could have on the corporate market.

"The corporate market offers the greatest opportunity for PDA vendors," Kort said. "There have been strong consumer shipments in the past, but the consumer market is much less profitable and is not likely to grow as fast as the corporate market. PDA vendors that do not have a strong enterprise strategy will miss out on the bulk of market growth over the next year."

And while adoption overall has been slow, due in no small part to the depressed economy, Kort sees a strong future for firms endeavoring to tap the wireless enterprise market.

"IT managers have generally been dragging their feet in endorsing the use of PDAs," Kort said. "This resistance will subside as users are better able to justify the productivity enhancement offered by PDAs with wireless e-mail and applications that sync smoothly with corporate data repositories."