Fujitsu Siemens shoots for ‘Mobility’ leadership

Xscale-powered PDA

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Fujitsu Siemens Computers BV said last week that wireless technology will drive the next great wave in corporate IT spending, and announced plans to establish itself as a top-three player in a "mobility" systems market it expects to be worth 14bn euros ($12bn) by 2003.

The Amsterdam, Netherlands-based joint venture of Fujitsu Ltd and Siemens AG quietly set up a mobility business unit last November, but in Paderborn, Germany last week, new CEO Adrian von Hammerstein revealed the mobility strategy for the first time to 10,000 attendees of the company's annual customers and channel partner event.

Von Hammerstein said corporate mobility will require investment in all parts of the enterprise IT infrastructure, and in Fujitsu Siemens' strategy will be backed up by a parallel commitment to security and reliability considerations encompassed by the company's second major marketing pillar, business critical computing.

Delegates to the Paderborn event were invited to preview a raft of hardware, software and applications products that will be formally launched at the CeBIT show in Hannover next month. In terms of hardware, the new products include additions to Fujitsu-Siemens' established range of Lifebook business notebook computers, its Amilo D consumer notebook family, and its specialized wireless tablet and webpad offerings.

On the software front, Fujitsu Siemens will showcase at Hannover products for mobile data management and synchronization, and wireless application integration tools based on its openSEAS middleware. For users of SAP AG, Fujitsu-Siemens will offer a range of mobile device interfaces and client software suites for mySAP applications, including human resource, customer relationship management, business intelligence, and financial suites.

On announcing his company's new focus on business mobility, von Hammerstein promised that the strategy will be "about people, and not about devices." However, at CeBIT the most eye-catching product launch is likely to be that of the new Pocket Loox personal digital assistant.

Technical details of the product were scanty last week, possibly because Fujitsu Siemens is constrained by a non-disclosure agreement with Intel Corp, whose new ARM-based Xscale processor is expected to be at the heart of the Loox.

The Xscale chip will ensure that the Loox is at least as powerful as the Compaq iPaq, which is currently the runaway leader in the Pocket PC-based corporate handheld device market, and Fujitsu Siemens is promising other features that may give Loox the edge on iPaq. Chief among these is the device's native support for Bluetooth, and a GPRS plug-on module that will make the Loox an early contender for best wireless PDA.

Fujitsu-Siemens' implementation of Bluetooth in the Loox is particularly impressive, since it is supported by an icon-driven configuration tool that should go a long way toward simplifying the often complex business of creating Bluetooth connections with other devices. At the moment this Pocket Plug-Free product is available in desktop format only, but Fujitsu-Siemens promises to have it ready for use on the Loox when or shortly after the product launches in March.

Early Loox users may also have to wait a little while for the GPRS plug-on, but when it arrives, they will pleased to discover that it comes with its own integral battery, an important consideration for users who expect to make use of normally power-hungry multi-slot data packet links.

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