The second - and larger - danger is theft or loss of PDAs that contain sensitive corporate data. This is not new - laptops have been stolen or left behind in the past, and even desktop PCs have been known to disappear from offices overnight. However, PDAs in general are much more susceptible to loss and theft because of their small size. The main protection approach against this problem is encryption of the data on the unit and/or removable data storage (e.g., CompactFlash). Although several solutions are available for both the Pocket PC and Palm platforms (e.g., Certicom), so far few users have encrypted their PDAs because of the inconvenience. We do not expect this to change until such encryption is forced on users by enterprise policies.
User Action: Although Pocket PC 2002 devices can replace laptops for the minority with limited needs on the road (e.g., access to e-mail and form-based access and entry to some enterprise applications), for most mobile users this will still be a companion device rather than a replacement for a laptop.
Companies that have standardized on Microsoft environments (e-mail, development, etc.) will find a closer affinity to the Pocket PC than to Palm PDAs, and with its greater processing power, expandability, and connectivity options, we expect enterprises to move in greater numbers to Pocket PC and away from Palm devices. Also, enterprises will be much more comfortable working with a large enterprise supplier, such as Compaq or Hewlett-Packard, than a small, less financially stable vendor, such as Palm or Handspring.
META Group analysts Jack Gold, David Cearley, Ashim Pal, Peter Firstbrook, Jeffrey Mann, Val Sribar, and William Zachmann contributed to this article.