Gateway Enters PDA Arena

Computer maker and consumer device retailer Gateway Thursday confirmed it will begin offering its own brand of PDA devices — the 100X — starting in mid- to late July.

The Poway, Calif.-based company follows in the footsteps of Dell Computer and Hewlett-Packard as PC vendors who have expanded their portfolios to include mobile devices.

Gateway’s said its version will be based on an Intel 400MHz XScale processor running Microsoft’s new Windows Mobile 2003 Software for Pocket PCs. The thin design supports a 3.5-inch screen, dual Compact Flash and Secure Digital slots for adding modules for wireless networking or storing extra data. The price will be between $300 and $350. Despite the super saturated mobile device market, Gateway senior product manager Paul Torres told that the time was right for the company to come out with their version.

“When we look at the PDA market in general, we sat back and looked at the market and now we believe there are some market opportunities there,” Torres said.

Torres said Gateway has plans for future versions including an entry-level model as well as one with embedded wireless LAN features.

But is the company too slow to market with their PDA?

Jupiter Research senior analyst Michael Gartenberg says Gateway has a monumental task in front of them.

“It’s going to very hard. Their challenge is going to be differentiating themselves from the competition,” Gartenberg said. “It’s different than say how they introduced their Plasma TV at a breakthrough price point. This is a market being cornered by Palm, Compaq and Toshiba as well as Dell, which is commanding the low-end. Gateway has got to do something drastic.”

Gateway says its 100X PDA will be targeted at small- and medium-sized businesses, corporations, schools and government agencies. Gateway’s current mobile product line includes tablet PCs, thin-and-light notebooks and high-performance desktop replacement models.

The company is in the midst of a revamp and says it is on tap to deliver more than 50 new products across 15 consumer electronics and business categories.

“Gateway is turning into a branded integrator,” Torres said. “Sure, we are entering a “me too” category. Our customers were asking us when we would come out with our version of a handheld device.”

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