SAP partners with Sharp to sell Zaurus

(via Erik): “TOKYO (Reuters) – Business software maker SAP AG said on Thursday it aims to sign up five percent, or 1,000, of its current 20,000 corporate customers for its mobile business services by 2005. The German company set the target as part of a global development and marketing tie-up with Sharp Corp that will allow SAP customers to access software systems using Sharp’s Zaurus personal digital assistants (PDAs). ”
I’m not sure about the reason given for chosing Sharp, though: “When clients asked us about mobile solutions, the limitations are mostly in the display, because it’s too small,” Kagermann told reporters in Tokyo, adding both companies may also seek separate alliances to expand their reach. I don’t think the display is that superior to Palm or PocketPC. Chosing a vendor that supports Linux sure makes things easier, and the Zaurus is one of few PDAs with a keyboard. When you just need to look up an appointment, the pen is fine. But SAP customers need to enter data as well, and for that a PDA with keyboard will always be at advantage. Also, to make it in corporate environments, you may need to put some additional security in. There are some hardware based solutions, and modifying the PDA OS to take advantage of them will be a lot easier on Linux.
Update 2003-07-08: internetnews.com has some more details: “Enterprise software company SAP AG (Quote, Company Info) and Japanese electronics giant Sharp have teamed up in order to build applications that deliver real-time data across corporate networks to smaller mobile devices. The applications will be designed using open source operating system Linux and Java-based programming protocols, in an expansion of the companies’ support for non-Windows-based software and vendors. SAP and Sharp said they would be targeting CRM (customer relationship management) systems intended for mobile workers, such as sales personnel and service technicians who work outside of the office. While laptop computers have historically been used to handle such services, the move now is to enable smaller mobile terminal devices for these purposes, the companies said.”