Palm is shipping its first Wi-Fi PDA in Europe, in an effort to kick-start the flagging market.
The new Palm Tungsten C is a high-end business PDA powered by a 400MHz Arm processor with 802.11b built in. Using WiFi with the power-hungry processor cuts Palm's vaunted battery life to eight hours, down to PocketPC levels.
Bluetooth is not built in, but can be added via a Secure Digital card slot. The software bundle includes Documents-to-Go, giving full compatibility with Word and Excel files.
Palm is also releasing the Zire 71, for the consumer market. It includes a built-in camera, enhanced multimedia support and Palm's clearest screen yet. It is aimed at Sony's Clie customers.
"It's been a very odd year for the market," said Tim Mahne, Palm sales director for northern Europe. "One month sales are up 20 per cent and then down 40 per cent the month after.
"There are three product cycles interacting, as early adopters, business and consumers all buy to different patterns."
Overall, Palm is now the dominant PDA vendor in the UK market, according to figures from GFK. However, figures for Europe from mobile analyst Canalys show that the company is losing in volume shipments of portable devices to both smart phones and Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system.
In the latter case new entrants like Dell and Viewsonic have boosted the number of systems using PocketPC even if none of the manufacturers have a lock on the market.
"The sheer number of PocketPC vendors and the lowering of prices has affected everyone," said Chris Jones, senior analyst at Canalys.
"Palm has been doing okay year-on-year for sales, but is under increasing pressure. The momentum is building behind PocketPC, and IT managers who specify large buys are more familiar with Microsoft. The pressure can only grow when the next version of PocketPC comes out later this year."
Palm has also announced that it is at last ready to ship the Tungsten W, originally scheduled for October last year. The company explained that European certification has held up shipping, but that units will be with the channel by the end of the week.
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