Palm’s z22, TX Hit New Low, High

Palm released two PDAs on Wednesday aimed at two very different market segments.

The Palm Z22 is for people who are ready to move up from paper. Its $99 price tag and compact size is targeted at those who now use printed organizers, a market Palm pegged at $1 billion per year.

Set-up for the Z22 was simplified, and Palm included a booklet with tips on how to use the PDA. The company cited research showing that there’s a substantial population of people resisting PDAs because they think they’re too complicated to use.

Palm z22

The z22 is for the novice Palm user.

Source: Palm

“The Z22 is a fairly strategic product,” said Gartner analyst Todd Kort. “The goal is to bring new users into what they call the ‘Palm economy’ in the hope that, in a year or two, they may upgrade to a more fully featured model.”

The Z22 has a color screen; it’s about the same size as a deck of cards and weighs less than three ounces. It has a color display, lets users color-code appointments and set reminders. It can download digital photos from the PC and display them on-screen.

“It’s perfect for first-time users and students, who can now throw away their paper planners, replacing scratched-out pages and dozens of sticky notes with all the information they need in one little place,” Ken Wirt, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for Palm, said in a statement.

Kort said that the device needs to be not only cheap but also attractive and not too intimidating. “It’s pretty easy to get into and learn how to use the system,” he said, “and it makes for a smoother transition if you were to upgrade.”

The Z22 replaces the Zire line, which the company introduced in 2002 as entry-level devices starting at $99. The company also reduced the price of the Tungsten E2 handheld by $50, suggesting it now be sold for around $199.

On the other hand, Palm released the TX handheld with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technology, a 320×480 color screen and Flash memory to protect data if the device loses its charge.

DataViz Documents To Go is pre-installed, letting users work with Microsoft Word- and Excel-compatible files, as well as view and edit PowerPoint files. The TX moniker replaces the Tungsten brand.

For a suggested price of $299, users can check e-mail, browse the Web and download media and documents over the air via Wi-Fi. The device can scan for available networks.

The TX also plays video and music. It comes equipped with the Pocket Tunes music player, an expansion card slot for viewing photos from a digital camera, and the ability to download and play videos via third-party software.

Palm tx

The TX shoots for the wireless worker.

Source: Palm

Noting that the TX is the lowest-priced Wi-Fi enabled PDA on the market, Kort wasn’t impressed by it. “I think the E2 model still will be much more popular,” he said.

Due to the sale of PalmSource, Palm is stuck with an aging OS, Kort added. Both the Palm TX and the Z22 use the Palm operating system.

“Because the Garnet operating system is no longer being enhanced, they’re stuck at the 5.4 version.,” he said.

PalmSource, the Palm spin-off that handled development of the operating system and applications, was acquired by Japanese mobile software maker Access in September.

Palm has moved to Microsoft’s mobile operating system for the next version of its Treo smartphone. The Microsoft-powered Treo 700 is expected to ship in 2006.

The TX competes with Palm’s Treo 650, which hit the market a year ago and is also selling for $299. The Treo 650 offers telephony, wireless e-mail and the ability to view but not edit documents. It plays music, but not video; nor does it have Wi-Fi connectivity.

The TX’s thunder was stolen by a competing announcement from Apple Computer of a video-enabled iPod, along with the ability to buy downloads of hot TV shows including “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” for $1.99 to play on it via the iTunes 6 download service.

The video iPod also sells for $299, but it has no productivity tools.

Kort said that, despite Palm’s hopes of branding the Tungsten and TX models as business devices, both are overwhelmingly bought by consumers for personal use.

“Corporate users are going to go with Windows,” he said. “Windows Mobile 5.0 has a much more robust feature set, better security better support for wireless connectivity — all the little things corporations are looking for.”

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