But RIM's competition is getting tougher. Competitor Palm, which last year had 18.6% of the PDA market compared with RIM's 21.4%, according to Gartner**, seems to have gained momentum since adopting Windows Mobile 5.0 as an alternative platform to the Palm OS late last year. Palm came out with the Windows-based Treo 700w and has three more Treo-type devices planned for this year.

Treos beat BlackBerrys in a comparison test to determine which to provide to executives at Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative. "It was based on personal preference," IS manager Ian Fleming says. For one, execs disliked the unique scrolling wheel on the side of the BlackBerry.

The BlackBerry stands out in other ways, too, that some may not find beneficial. For companies to push employees' E-mail to BlackBerrys, RIM requires the purchase of its BlackBerry Enterprise server, priced at between $3,000 and $4,000. Last month, Microsoft released an upgrade that lets Exchange servers directly push E-mail to Windows Mobile 5.0 devices--meaning no investment in middleware for businesses already using Exchange.

**Intersting side point...those PDA figures of 18.6% do NOT include Treo sales.

"According to Gartner, Palm, Inc.'s share of the market last year dropped 26 percent. But, in order for this to make sense, you need know that this market-research firm doesn't consider Palm's best-selling model -- the Treo 650 -- to be a handheld. Instead, it is classified as a smartphone, and therefore isn't included in this company's handheld results.

If the 1.95 million Treos shipped in 2005 were included, then Palm's total number of devices shipped last year would total up to 4.72 million.

If these two numbers were combined, it would beat out RIM's total of handhelds and smartphones, even though Gartner put RIM ahead of Palm in the handheld market. "

Based upon the above, those predicting Palm as a good stock buy may know more than I woulda thought. I woulda figured the indiviudal geeks as the Treo users and the corporate execs as the BB afficionados but more and more stories of businesses going other way....and more and more mags picking up stories with this kinda bent.