Windows Mobile 6 to Get Boost from Palm
Palm Inc. to support Windows Mobile 6 despite merger rumors.
Speculation is swirling that a number of companies may be interested in acquiring Palm Inc., the supplier of the popular Treo smartphone. But the company says it will continue its strategy of supporting multiple client platforms, including the latest release of Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system.
Though not addressing the ramifications of a potential merger, the company recently disclosed its intention to offer Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6 Professional Edition on its Treo 750. The device now runs Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC Phone Edition. Palm says it will update the Treo 750 with the new software later this year.
Windows Mobile 6 Professional Edition is a touch screen-capable platform that comes with Windows Live, Windows Mobile Update and Windows Mobile Marketplace as standard components. It also supports a number of optional license components, including Microsoft Office Mobile, Remote Desktop Mobile, IP Telephony and Voice Command 1.6.
Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Palm's Treo 750 is a five-band world phone that supports e-mail, messaging and Web-browsing capabilities. This is the company's third device to support the Windows Mobile OS.
Committed to Success
Microsoft supports Windows Mobile developers with a series of software development kits (SDKs), which add documentation, sample code, header and library files, emulator images and tools to Visual Studio 2005. Palm supports developers on two platforms -- the Palm OS and Windows Mobile -- through its own developer network. The company plans to add support for Linux developers in the near future with a long-promised rewrite of its widely used Palm OS.
Market research firm Gartner Inc. estimates that more than 600,000 Treos based on Windows Mobile 5 shipped worldwide in 2006. Gartner analyst Todd Kort sees this announcement as a further demonstration of Palm's commitment to making Windows Mobile a success on its flagship smartphone.
"Windows Mobile is Palm's main avenue to connect with large enterprises," Kort tells RDN, "few of which are interested in the Palm OS or the forthcoming version of Palm OS atop a Linux kernel. For users who value multitasking, Windows Mobile gives Palm a chance at their business."
Although Windows Mobile-based Treos comprised only about 5 percent of all Windows Mobile devices shipped in 2006, Palm has led the way among Windows Mobile licensees in developing software that makes the Treo easier to use and a more satisfying out-of-the-box experience, Kort adds.
Microsoft launched its Windows Mobile 6 platform in February, adding features previously available only on PCs, including support for mobile versions of Office applications that provide a "genuine" experience.
However, to date Redmond has captured only about 15 percent (approximately 13 million units in 2006) of the PDA and smartphone market.
"Considering Microsoft's 95-percent-plus share in the PC market, and the affinity with Windows Mobile, a 15 percent share in mobile devices cannot be considered success," Kort says.
Kort nonetheless says the company has made some smart moves in the space. "Microsoft has done a lot of things right [in regard to] enterprise customers and IT managers, such as enabling connectivity between Exchange, Vista and Windows Mobile 6. Microsoft has great tools for building applications and they do a good job of supporting developers relative to the competition. Windows Mobile is a great choice for large enterprises."