Hewlett-Packard is eyeing the corporate enterprise market with two new handhelds loaded with Microsoft Corp.’s Pocket PC 2002 operating system.

Launching this Thursday, the Jornada 565 and 568 differ only in memory capacity and price. The 565 has 32MB of memory and cost $899, while the 568 has 64MB of memory and cost $999.

“The opportunities are definitely on the enterprise side,” said Mike Oreskovic, business manager for HP’s iAppliances in Canada. “From a PDA perspective, it’s been in the retail space for a long time.” But now that an improved operating system is available, he said, customers are more willing to take what’s in the enterprise and put it in the hands of mobile users.

Oreskovic said a Windows OS gives the Jornada an advantage in the enterprise space because IT managers and users are already very familiar with its look and feel, and it’s not a huge jump for developers to port applications.

In addition to the Pocket PC OS, which includes software such as Pocket versions of Outlook, Word, Exel and Internet Explorer, Oreskovic said the Jornada’s value-added hardware and software are strong selling features. HP is now offering Intel’s 206 MHz StrongARM SA-1110 processor, and has added a lithium-polymer battery and 8MB of flash memory.

The handhelds also sport Certicom’s virtual private networking (VPN) software, Movian. “All together, your looking a more robust, secure device than we’ve had in the past,” said Oreskovic.

Sales force automation is the No. 1 factor for companies deciding to deploying mobile devices such as the Jornada, said Oreskovic.

“Application developers are looking for horizontal solutions and to provide applications that can go across a number of different market segments.” Any application that is able to give a mobile user access to customer information is proving popular, said Oreskovic.

Ken Smiley, an analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Giga Information Group, isn’t sure the Movian software provides much extra value, considering the latest Pocket PC OS already comes with VPN software. “If there are particular features and functions the Movian VPN is capable of doing that the Microsoft one is not, then there’s maybe a reason to put that in there,” he said.

Smiley said VPN software is only important depending on how the enterprise is architected. “If I’m simply using a dial-in server that’s sitting inside the corporate firewall, then VPN’s a lot less important.” But if an organization is looking for wireless connectivity, he said, then VPN software is a must-have.

Smiley said it’s an interesting time for HP to launch new products in the Jornada family with the pending acquisition of Compaq. In the past, he said, the Jornada has had decent sales with clients where HP was already popular. “It didn’t sell very well when stacked in head-to-head competition with the iPaq.”

Jack Gold, vice-president of mobile and pervasive computing at Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group, said if the HP-Compaq marriage goes through, he would be shocked to see two product lines survive. “Ultimately, given market share, I would expect them to go with the iPaq simply because of the installed base and the channel. I think iPaq regardless is going to lead the market place.”

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