Arrowhead Electronic Healthcare has at least one very happy (and public) customer: Bayer.

For those who don’t know the company, Arrowhead offers an electronic patient diary. The company is based in Texas and straddles the line between clinical research and health care. Headcount is up 20 percent since we last wrote about the company.

On its web site, Arrowhead explicitly says that its product can help not just in clinical trials, but in the development of data to support pharmaceutical marketing claims—and in monitoring drug safety.

We chatted with Arrowhead president Jeff Albrecht a while back. He rang us up to pound another nail into the coffin of the not-yet-dead Palm, which we’d written about at the time. Two years ago, he reports, Albrecht had to make a tough call about a transition to Windows. “The world is changing,” he says. “We felt the pain of working on Palm.”

Wrinkled Palms

Translation: the sponsor world no longer reflexively assumes Palm is a safe mobile platform for the long haul, however one may define the long haul. Arrowhead, Albrecht says, could ultimately decide to transition to hardware and software from Symbian or Apple if that turned out to have the best balance between performance and price.

“We have a lot of Palm deployments out there,” Albrecht says. “But we are switching all new deployments to the Windows system.”

Better Translation

He says that Windows Mobile is simply a better platform for clinical trials in the 21st century. “We would have a heck of a time generating a ‘your battery is low’ error message in Israel on Palm,” says Albrecht. “But we are able to do that on a Windows device. It makes internationalization a lot easier. We are deploying around the world in different languages, including Middle Eastern languages.”

He says the code heads are drifting away from Palm. “The other thing is getting Palm developers,” says Albrecht. “None of the good developers want to develop on Palm any more.”

Parallel Universe

It kills us to write this, frankly, as a longtime Palm and Mac user. But we see an analogy between Palm and Apple. Our Treos are invariably fragile units, despite their premium price. Our new Mac Mini is the most wretched, moribund disaster of a computer that we’ve ever owned. The fact that Adobe applications run like molasses on it is especially galling: Apple and Adobe issue press releases claiming to work together.

Of late we’ve found ourselves gazing in awe at ... God save us ... Windows XP. It just works.

Not Vista, mind you. We’re conservative. Some older version of XP. We have a Dell laptop purchased not long after the Mac Mini, and love it. It screams. Unlike the Mac, the Dell does not require us to learn Unix commands. Unlike the Mac, which no longer has a good way to locate files and folders, Google Desktop makes that a snap on the PC. Apple is completing its self-destruction by becoming an American Sony, making expensive, disposable toys.

Like Apple, Palm is a formerly pioneering brand that faces a dicey transition to its next chapter. Palm has been in the news this month, with Morgan Stanley brought in by Palm itself to attempt to sell the company. Forget about buying Palm. Who could fix it?