22 July 2002 Corporate applications that use the IBM WebSphere application server will soon be accessible from a Palm handheld computer.
Systems and software giant IBM has agreed with Palm to develop extensions to IBM’s WebSphere application server and suite of development tools to enable applications to run on Palm devices. That will mean, for example, that mobile executives will be able to access business intelligence software providing sales data while they are on the road. The software will be ready in late 2002.
The agreement will also see IBM reselling Palm devices. This is on top of IBM’s existing agreement to resell devices from Nokia and Hewlett-Packard. Both Palm and IBM will sell IBM’s Lotus Sametime secure instant messaging software on Palm handhelds.
The agreement is significant for both companies. It should help IBM sell more software, such as its MQ Series message queuing software and its WebSphere application server, to organisations with large numbers of remote workers.
For Palm, the deal is an important step to boost its presence among corporate users. Palm has already signed an agreement with customer relationship management software vendor Siebel Systems and aims to announce further deals before the end of the summer.
This is not IBM’s first tie-up with Palm. Earlier attempts at reselling Palm devices flopped. In February 2002, IBM said it would no longer sell its Workpad devices – Palm handheld devices sold under the IBM brand name – because of poor sales.
At that time, IBM said it did not want its mobile strategy tied to a specific hardware manufacturer. This suggests that further agreements involving WebSphere for Nokia, HP and others are likely to follow.