3 July 2003 SAP has announced an alliance with Japanese electronics giant Sharp to develop and market mobile communication services intended to make it easier for users to get speedy access to corporate date on the move.
Under the terms of the deal, which is SAP’s first partnership in the area of mobile communications, Sharp will develop software and handheld devices that are compatible with SAP’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) software suite, enabling users to access data when and where they need it.
The first product will feature Sharp’s ‘Zaurus’ handheld computer, which runs the open source Linux operating system and features a high-resolution liquid crystal display.
According to Sharp, the processing speed of the Zarus devices will be several times faster than rival handheld computers due to new middleware technology developed by the company. In the future, said Sharp, the two companies will also release mobile personal computers and mobile phones.
Commenting on the deal, SAP CEO Henning Kagermann said that the aim is to encourage the use of standard, compatible devices based on open source technology across the globe. “We have seen in the past too many separate individual devices and tools coming to the market,” he said.
The main customers are expected to be companies with a large number of sales people or engineers who work outside of the office. The first products will be released in Japan, although no launch date has yet been given, followed by a global roll out.
SAP and Sharp said that they expect demand for mobile communication services to grow rapidly, encompassing some 17 million corporate users worldwide.
Shigeo Misaka, senior executive vice president at Sharp, said he hopes to attract about 500,000 clients over the next two years, equating to a 30% share of the global market. Kagermann said SAP is hoping that about 5% of its 20,000 clients worldwide (about 1,000 companies) will use the services.
Sharp is also a user of SAP R3.