Compaq offers rapid-start wireless program

Looking for a way to hand out pocket-sized computers to your employees and implement all the back-end software you’ll need to support them? If so, then Compaq Computer Corp.’s new wireless framework program, announced this week, may be the answer.

What makes Compaq’s latest foray into the wireless world interesting is that the turnkey program, which includes design and installation services, is aimed at helping mobile-minded enterprise users better support Pocket PCs through proper server and network software, as well as hardware. It aims to make Compaq’s iPAQs – the company’s pocket-sized PCs – more effective and secure, and includes application integration and network support.

Observers say Compaq’s mobile strategy could help companies put mobile users to work more quickly because it ties together the necessary pieces in a simple package.

“This is a very focused rapid-start pilot program for users looking at ways to save money or improve business processes,” says John Madden, a senior analyst at Summit Strategies Inc. “What’s interesting is that while Compaq has had the pieces for this for quite some time, it’s taken them a while to do this.”

Madden says users will likely be attracted to the program’s straightforward nature. “It has a fixed price for 50 users, with very specific offerings,” he says. “It’s very up-front, and they help you plan it out.”

Madden says that a lot of hesitation regarding wireless technology stems from the current poor economy and bandwidth issues. “IT budgets are under a lot more scrutiny,” he says, and return on investment “has to be demonstrated a lot more clearly. For some customers, wireless hasn’t delivered on all the promises.”

Compaq will compete with both IBM Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. in the wireless arena. Madden says IBM also has a quick-start program designed to make wireless device integration easier. IBM’s program starts at about US$250,000, while Compaq’s starts at $300,000, a price that includes 50 iPAQs, as well as 50 user licenses for the software to tie those mobile users into the network.