European operators' fondness for the Symbian mobile platform is preventing Palm OS devices from making a bigger splash in the continent, according to Palm's CEO Ed Colligan. But the handset vendor is sticking to its Windows Mobile guns to entice the old world.
He told silicon.com at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona: "In the US, the Palm OS is so well established Symbian never got any traction. Here, operators are more supportive of Symbian." Despite this setback, Palm still hopes to make some impact in the consumer sphere in which the Nokia-backed OS is so prominent. "Every time we [always] try and convince [European operators] to carry a broader portfolio," Colligan said.
While the Palm OS may not be the most familiar name with Europeans, Windows Mobile is - especially with businesses users. This is one reason why, despite a long-standing commitment to its homegrown OS, the handset maker announced it was launching a series of Windows Mobile devices in late 2005.
It was a decision Palm hopes will help it to crack Europe's business market. Colligan said: "Part of that came into our thinking. It's a harder battle to get people to adopt the Palm operating system in [the enterprise] community."
A similar OS switch to target the consumer market is not on the cards: Palm is unlikely to adopt Symbian. Colligan added: "'I'd never say never but right now I can't see it in the foreseeable future."
The first European Windows OS Treo launched last year.
Meanwhile, the battle for enterprise mobility continues to heat up, with the Treo seeing new competition from what traditionally have been considered consumer players. This week Nokia has launched three new E series phones, while Motorola has updated its Q range - all hoping to capitalise on enterprise users' interest in mobile email.
At present, the percentage of email addresses accessed on mobile devices is in single digits despite the majority of handsets now supporting such functionality. Business mobility is all very well and good - but it will never achieve mass-market adoption unless operators start clipping their pricing, Palm's CEO told silicon.com.
He added: "The cost of data services is a barrier to entry. There's not a lot of people - and enterprises - that wake up and say 'I want to pay another $40 for my data'... Hopefully it's going to get more and more competitive."
Colligan's stance was backed by senior VP of Microsoft's mobile and embedded devices division, Pieter Knook, who told delegates at 3GSM: "Data plans are not sufficiently easy to consume - they're too opaque and pricing of data especially when travelling is way too opaque and too expensive... Without simple tariff structures we won't have mass adoption."
Yesterday T-Mobile announced it would cut its data-roaming in half.