IBM to ink OEM deal to market 3Com's Palm Pilot

As part of an OEM agreement with networking giant 3Com, IBM plans to put its name and marketing behind a Palm Pilot handheld device that Big Blue will call the Workpad. The device, which will not sport new features from those already in the current Palm Pilot, will be marketed through IBM's ThinkPad notebook division and be priced similarly to the US$199 Palm Pilot. An analyst says it has been 3Com's goal since it acquired Pilot vendor US Robotics earlier this year to obtain licensing and OEM agreements for the popular handheld device.

As part of an OEM agreement with networking giant 3Com, IBM plans to put its name and marketing behind a Palm Pilot handheld device that Big Blue will call the Workpad.

The device, which will not sport new features from those already in the current Palm Pilot, will be marketed through IBM's ThinkPad notebook division and be priced similarly to the US$199 Palm Pilot.

"From IBM's point of view, this is not a big risk," says Randal Giusto, director of mobile technology research at IDC, in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Giusto says it has been 3Com's goal since it acquired Pilot vendor US Robotics earlier this year to obtain licensing and OEM agreements for the popular handheld device. The simplicity of the Pilot and its synchronisation capabilities with the desktop have made it increasingly appealing to corporate IS, he adds.

"It's been coming through the back door and now corporations are looking to put it on their approved list, because of things it offers," Giusto says.

Among those offerings is the ability to get day-to-day, activity-related data remotely, while not being overburdened with more than you need.

"You can't say that for the [Microsoft Windows CE] devices," Giusto adds.

The Workpad is not yet publicly available.

IBM, in Armonk, New York, is at http://www.ibm.com/.

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