Right before the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Sprint PCS and Palm announced an agreement to market and sell wireless solutions for handhelds using the Palm OS platform. I was able to speak to Sprint PCS and Palm officials about this agreement, and what it means for users, the marketplace and mobile computing.
Basically, the agreement is beneficial to customers of both companies' services. For Palm users, the partnership will let them access Sprint PCS's nationwide digital voice and data network. Sprint PCS customers will gain a chance to utilize Palm applications and other services.
In the longer term, the agreement allows both companies' developers to work on solutions that merge the wireless phone world with the PDA world. Sure, solutions have been coming about, such as the Kyocera smartphone (phone with the Palm OS), along with other agreements between Palm and some cellphone manufacturers. But this agreement gets Palm into the Code Division Multiple Access network, and it gives Sprint PCS the chance to develop a device that incorporates the Palm OS in addition to Palm's vast development resources.
The companies plan to offer a co-branded version of the MyPalm portal, which will include Palm wireless personal information manager services, access to personal and corporate e-mail (perhaps via third-party developers), e-commerce purchasing options, and other information services such as movie listings or sporting event schedules. Additionally, a cabling option will be available that lets customers connect their Palm to a Sprint PCS Internet-ready phone, due in the first quarter of 2001. The next product, due by mid-2001, will be an add-on modem or sled that will allow Palm users to connect to the Sprint PCS Wireless Web. Finally, a phone that uses the Palm OS will likely be developed.
What excites both companies is the ability to develop applications, especially for enterprise customers. The alliance will let enterprise customers to use the Sprint PCS Wireless Web for Business suite of products as well as Palm's wireless enterprise products.
What this means for the future of mobile computing is further evidence of a "one-device" world, or at least a marriage between the handheld and the mobile phone (and wireless Internet access).
Personally, I think the agreement is a good one all around, as it gives each company something they needed. Palm gives its customers more access to wireless services, and Sprint gets access to the Palm OS, its developers and a wealth of applications. And users get more ways to use their devices and make it worth the investment.
This story, "Palm and Sprint PCS partner" was originally published by Network World.