Palm's Business Software Legacy

It all started with HP and Palm. It's only fitting that they join forces.

On Wednesday, HP announced that they are acquiring Palm, Inc.. This is a significant milestone in mobile computing. Both HP and Palm were pioneers in the mobile device market. This is an end of an era, and also a new beginning.

I first checked my email wirelessly in 1995 in a booth at the Flames coffee shop on Winchester in San Jose, using an HP 200LX "palm top" computer and the old Ricochet network. It was a revelation! HP has always been on the leading edge of handheld devices, starting with their scientific calculators in the '70s.

I first used a Palm Pilot in 1996, when they first came out, and the big war was between those that used Franklin or Filofax planners (paper), and PDAs. The big challenge with the PalmPilot was learning Graffiti, the pen-based alphabet that you had to use to enter data. No keyboard here! Up until the Palm Pilot, PDAs were cumbersome and did not easily allow backups of contacts. Too many of my colleagues dropped their PDAs once too often, only to lose all their contacts and appointments. The Palm changed all that. It was virtually effortless to sync your PalmPilot to your PC. Thus, a ruined PDA was a bit expensive, but no longer tragic.

Today, the "smart phone" and wireless handheld devices are overtaking desktop and laptop computers as the platform of choice for web browsing and email. Can access to business applications be far behind? Already, business applications such as Salesforce.com can be accessed by handhelds, such as the BlackBerry, iPhone, Windows Mobile, and Android devices. With HP acquiring Palm, a very good platform will get some much needed heft.

It all started with HP and Palm. I think it is fitting that they join forces.

What do you think about this? How has mobile computing changed the way you work? Have you been using handhelds to access your business apps? Does the acquisition by HP change your thoughts about using Palm devices? Sound off in the comments!

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