RealTime IT News

Palm Intros Color Handhelds

Continuing its effort to shore up sagging sales, Palm, Inc. Monday released two new color handhelds.

The company said that its Palm m130 and m515 handhelds both support full color and Palm's dual-expansion technology that enables use of both SecureDisk and MultiMediaCard media.

The m130 fills out the company's lower-end m100 series line of handhelds and includes rechargeable batteries and 8MB of RAM. The m515 is part of the higher-end m500 line of handhelds and includes 16MB of RAM. The company said that the m130 will sell for $279 and the m515 will sell for $399.

The new devices are being released less than half a year before the release of Palm's upgraded operating system, Palm OS 5.0. That platform is expected to include built-in support for a variety of types of wireless communications, including wireless local area networks and Bluetooth. It also is expected to have significantly beefed-up support for multimedia and, as a 32-bit operating system, it will support more powerful applications.

Palm has just completed a year in which products carrying its brand and those using its operating system lost market share, although both the brand and the platform still dominate the handheld market. A recent market share study showed that Palm-branded devices still hold a 38.6 percent market share worldwide with even greater penetration in the U.S.

In addition, all devices using the Palm platform, such as Handspring's Visor devices, hold a 50 percent worldwide market share, which also is a market-leading position. However, Palm-branded devices lost significant market share in 2001 worldwide, much of which came at the hands of devices based on Microsoft's Pocket PC platform.

Overall handheld shipments grew at a relatively paltry 17 percent in 2001, according to market studies. However, shipments grew rapidly in the fourth quarter, which some believe presages a return to robust shipment levels.