Palm prepares for fresh consumer and enterprise push

Palm is to target both the consumer and enterprise sectors with new PDAs in an aggressive attempt to defend its share of the...

Palm is to target both the consumer and enterprise sectors with new PDAs in an aggressive attempt to defend its share of the market.

"We will launch three new [consumer] products this fall. We have been looking at how to bring new customers into the Palm economy, talking to non-Palm users to determine what would help bring them over to Palm. It comes down to date, contact and reminders," said Todd Bradley, chief executive officer of Palm Solutions Group.

Though Palm's operating systems run more than three-quarters of the world's handheld computers, the company is coming under increasing pressure from competing products, such as PDAs with built-in phones running Microsoft's Pocket PC 2002 software.

Palm will also reduce its prices: PDAs will be priced as low as £64 in the US, £100 in the UK and between £83 and £96 in the rest of Europe, Bradley said.

"When we mention the lower price points, the second question we are always asked is 'Will we make money?' Yes, though the price is low, I assure you we will make money," Bradley said.

Palm has also rethought the way it packages and sells its products, and it will launch a PDA that uses "always-on" GPRS mobile telecommunication technology for the European market by the end of the year, and in the US next year.

Palm has yet to finalise agreements with carriers for the GPRS-enabled PDA, which will not use the latest version of the Palm operating system, Palm OS 5.

Palm OS 5 will be the first software from Palm to run on processors based on a high-speed core from Arm, and will allow software developers to tap into the mobile phone market as well as offer faster clock speeds and enhanced security for handheld users. Palm's first Arm-based OS 5 products will launch towards the end of next month.

Bradley said Microsoft is presenting stiff competition for Palm and that the company does have a job on its hands wooing users who, using Windows software on their PC, may feel more comfortable with a Windows-type environment on their mobile handheld device.

Palm has also focused on getting its technology and products out to the enterprise market, particularly through partnerships such as those announced with IBM and BEA Systems.

"The perception is that we haven't been that strong in the enterprise market, but historically, 10% of our products have gone to the consumer, 10% are large corporate purchases and 80% are deployed within an enterprise environment," Bradley said.

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