Palm embraces Windows in £180m deal

Acquisition of Extended Systems will see Palm supporting PocketPC, Symbian and other mobile platforms

Palm will provide a range of mobile data management software to support handheld devices from its rivals, including those based on Microsoft and Symbian operating systems, following a deal announced late Tuesday to acquire mobile solutions vendor, Extended Systems.

The acquisition, which is subject to stockholder approval, will also give Palm access to other technologies from Extended Systems, which include Bluetooth development kits for everything from PDAs and mobile phones to digital cameras, and even a Bluetooth development kit specifically aimed at Windows-based devices.

Extended Systems also develops and sells middleware, database software and virtual private networking products.

The move is designed to enable Palm to make itself more attractive to enterprise users. "Palm intends to be as popular with chief information officers as it is with individuals," said chief executive, Carl Yakowski, in a statement.

Yakowski said the acquisition will enable it to provide handheld computers and enterprise class mobile infrastructure software and support "for multiple operating systems including PalmOS, PocketPC, EPOC" as well as the operating system used by Canadian-based, Research In Motion in its BlackBerry device. Palm will gain the engineering staff, world-wide sales force and strategic partners of Extended Systems.

In a related move, the company has created three strategic business groups: the Enterprise Solutions Group, the Individual Solutions Group and the Platform Solutions Group.

The acquisition, which values Extended Systems at $264m (£180m) is subject to shareholder approval, and is expected to be completed this June.

Extended Systems reported a loss of $1.6m (£1.09m) on revenues of $13.9m for its second quarter ended 31 December 2000.

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