Pocket PC Vs. Palm: What's the Right Choice?

Covering for a vacationing John Ruley, Steve Milroy looks at the Pocket PC vs. Palm decision from the perspective of enterprise mobility.

John Ruley is on vacation this month, so I'm writing the Perspectives for the May 16 and May 30 editions of Mobile & Wireless UPDATE, Pocket PC Edition. I'd like to continue John's comparison of Pocket PC and Palm functionality by looking at the situation from my perspective, which is more focused on enterprise mobility solutions.

The Pocket PC vs. Palm discussion is best viewed as a consumer vs. enterprise device comparison. Palm has a long history of consumer use for access to personal information manager (PIM) data and applications. As recent Mobile & Wireless Solutions Instant Polls have shown, many people use Palm devices for PIM and simple wireless access. Also, industry statistics show that Palm boasts an overwhelming market-penetration advantage over Pocket PC, Research in Motion (RIM), and other PDA vendors. However, of all the Palm devices in use today, only a small percentage are enterprise-deployed. Most Palm users acquired their devices individually and then brought them to work, and they typically use HotSync to synchronize enterprise data with data on the device.

Pocket PC has a stronger focus on the challenges of the enterprise mobile device environment. Whereas Pocket PC 2000's consumer applications and functionality are similar to those of Palm, Pocket PC 2002 devices present a clear shift toward enterprise functionality, as you can see from the following features:

  • More memory for the OS and applications (64MB of RAM, 32MB of ROM)
  • Fast CPU (206MHz StrongARM processor), which permits the execution of rich, functional mobile business applications. (The Compaq iPAQ already uses the StrongARM processor for Pocket PC 2000, but now the processor is a requirement for Pocket PC 2002 devices.) And faster processors are on the way.
  • Flash ROM, which permits easy OS and application updates, allowing full leverage of the hardware investment.
  • Enhanced security (i.e., VPN adapter, 128-bit Secure Sockets Layer—SSL—support, local device pass codes), which offers better protection for data on the device and for remote connections to and from enterprise systems.
  • Server ActiveSync, which permits synchronization of PIM data over an IP connection (e.g., Wi-Fi—the 802.11b wireless standard, Cellular Digital Packet Data—CDPD, Ethernet, General Packet Radio Service—GPRS, Ricochet) and lets enterprise users connect remotely without the need of a desktop cradle.
  • Application-development enhancements such as Pocket PC 2002 software development kit (SDK), Microsoft SQL Server 2002 Windows CE Edition, and the forthcoming .NET Compact Framework, which allow for rapid development, deployment, and maintenance of enterprise applications.
  • The inclusion of other enhanced Microsoft applications, such as MSN Messenger, which provides Instant Messaging (IM) and alert functionality; Windows Media Player (WMP), which permits access to audio and video content; and Pocket Word and Pocket Excel, which allow easy access to attachments.
  • Telephone integration (e.g., Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition), which permits the use of telephony services and connectivity.

Of course, many of these features aren't isolated to the Pocket PC platform. Palm and other vendors offer components that you can combine in a similar solution. In general, though, the availability of all these features from one vendor provides superior compatibility and integration, resulting in a solid platform for enterprise mobile solutions.

Unlike John, I don't use a Palm device regularly because of the device's lack of enterprise functionality. Please contact me if you think a particular Palm feature makes Palm a better choice for enterprise mobile solutions. In the next Mobile & Wireless UPDATE, Pocket PC edition, I'll continue to compare Pocket PC and Palm. See you then.

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