This article highlights a startling statistic – sales of Windows Mobile-equipped handheld devices grew by 90% last year. Not that long ago, the Palm-based Treo 650 was the only reasonable phone/PDA device, but all of a sudden there’s more than 100 Windows Mobile phones shipping. (The Motorola Q is very cool looking – check it out!)

Palm is still out there but its spirit has been broken. The Treo 700p is nice but overshadowed by the explosion of Windows Mobile alternatives. There’s no evidence that Palm has anything in the pipeline to generate any momentum.

There are a number of ways to get e-mail to appear on a handheld device. Windows Mobile devices can be made to connect directly to an Exchange Server, so businesses running Small Business Server can have seamless access to their Outlook folders on the road. But the process for configuring the phone is obscure and so technically complex that it’s infuriating.

Blackberry maker RIM has also been churning out handhelds that sound appealing based on Blackberry’s reputation – e-mail just appears on them, right? Many people don’t realize that large companies run dedicated Blackberry servers to accomplish that mail delivery. Mail doesn’t appear on an individual’s Blackberry unless the office computer is logged in and running Outlook and some Blackberry software. And like too many things today, the Blackberry software is delicate – difficult to configure and capable of generating endless frustration if a problem develops.

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