First Voice-Enabled Palm PDA Hits Market

28 februari 2003, 08:45

Palm (Nasdaq: PALM) has joined the ranks of manufacturers offering converged data/voice devices with the launch of Tungsten W, the company’s first integrated GSM/GPRS wireless handheld. Voice communication is offered through AT&T Wireless for U.S. customers.

With carrier activation, the data-centric Tungsten W provides users with a combination of wireless e-mail , text messaging, Web browsing, phone functionality and business applications delivered on the high-speed voice and data network.

Among the device’s features are a built-in keyboard for single-handed navigation, a high-resolution color screen, a battery that delivers 10 hours of talk time and a Class 10 radio—one of the fastest radios available today for the GSM/GPRS network.

The Tungsten W handheld runs Palm OS 4.1.1 and is loaded with more than a dozen productivity, communication and entertainment applications. These include VersaMail, Palm’s e-mail management software, and Visto MessageXpress, an application that allows PC users to access messages from corporate or Internet e-mail. Mobile enterprise applications from IBM (NYSE: IBM) , Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) and other software developers are available as well.

The handheld represents Palm’s fourth generation of wireless devices, said Palm spokesperson Jim Christensen. He described the Tungsten W as an advanced multitasking tool for business professionals on the move. “With the earpiece, you can be on the phone and look at your calendar at the same time, or take notes while conducting a conference call,” he told NewsFactor.

The Tungsten W is the only voice-enabled PDA with a battery strong enough to make it through a 10-hour business day, Christensen said, and users can select from a catalog of some 1,600 Palm-based applications. “We’ve been in the mobile data and messaging space for a while, and this should help grow that market,” he said.

Palm hooked up with AT&T Wireless (NYSE: AWE) because the company wanted a GSM/GPRS carrier with a large footprint in the United States, Christensen said, adding that Palm also has agreements with Singtel in Asia, Rogers AT&T Wireless in Canada and Vodafone in Europe.

“Based on the profile of our target customers, GSM/GPRS-based operators are most applicable. It is the dominant wireless standard worldwide,” said Christensen.

The partnership with AT&T Wireless is a strong play for Palm, said IDC analyst Alex Slawsby. He agreed that supporting the GSM/GPRS standard is key in delivering a truly global handheld. Having taken the Tungsten W for a test drive, Slawsby told NewsFactor that he is impressed with Palm’s first voice-enabled product.

“It offers probably the strongest Web-browsing experience of any device of its type. Web pages are reconfigured for the screen, which is not something other manufacturers offer,” Slawsby said.

It was only a matter of time before Palm entered the converged voice/data handheld market, the analyst said, noting that the company’s PalmSource division already has delved into the so-called smartphone arena.

At US$549, the Tungsten W is a pricey product, but with subsidies from retailers reducing that sum, it could gain a following among Palm-toting business customers, Slawsby said. In pursuing such customers, Palm is going head-to-head with Handspring (Nasdaq: HAND) and its Treo 300 handheld, as well as Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM) and its voice-enabled BlackBerry 6700 series.

Beginning February 28th, the Tungsten W will be available nationwide at CompUSA, Franklin Covey and other U.S. retail stores. Customers can sign up for monthly data plans from AT&T Wireless ranging from US$29.99 for 10 MB to $99.99 for 100 MB. Voice service, which can be added to any data plan, may be purchased separately

Bron: Wireless Newsfactor 28 februari 2003


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