Palm's LifeDrive Mobile Manager

palmOne Announces New Category of Mobile-Computing Products

Today palmOne released the following press release:

May 9th 2005 A growing number of people today want access to greater volumes of digital business, personal, entertainment and online content that is as mobile as they are -- and just as varied. To meet this need, palmOne, Inc today signals the creation of a new category of mobile-computing products -- the mobile manager. The first product in this category is expected to be announced later this month.

The introduction of a new category reflects usage patterns palmOne has tracked over time, especially among customers for its premium products. Customers of palmOne's high-end Tungsten T3 handheld computer, for example, show a strong affinity for taking full advantage of the included DataViz Documents To Go software, which puts Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents at their fingertips. Customers also have asked palmOne to provide them with convenient ways to carry, file and manage rich digital content, such as music and video. While overlap exists, palmOne has identified three major customer segments and assigned three corresponding product lines to better serve them. They are as follows:

-- Mobile managers are designed for customers who are eager to take full advantage of the trend toward "digital everything" -- from documents and email to music, images and video, as standalone files or in organized folders;

-- Handhelds attract customers whose first and foremost interest is in basic organization tools, such as calendar and contacts. These customers often incorporate additional applications and add music and images to their handhelds, but their central purchase driver is organization. palmOne's Zire branded handheld computers serve consumers, and Tungsten branded handhelds serve mobile professionals in this customer set; and

-- Smartphones attract customers whose primary interest is in a single converged device that is an outstanding phone that also delivers excellent email access and organization. The Treo smartphone from palmOne serves this customer set.

"In studying customer trends, we found that some people want to carry dozens of documents and hundreds of songs while others want to carry a thousand-plus photos and enjoy videos," said Page Murray, palmOne vice president of marketing. "Organization functions were highly valued by nearly all our customers, but some wanted much more business and personal file-management capabilities. We listened and will deliver a new category of mobile-computing product that will let customers fuse their own mix of personal and business content in ways never before possible in either handheld computers or smartphones.

"We'll bring to market a new type of product that simplifies our lives and makes work and play more productive and more fun," said Murray. "Stay tuned."


Well it seems we need not wait long for a glimse of the new device

After months of rumours on the Web, details of palmOne's new "LifeDrive" PDA have finally shown up on Amazon.

The device will come with a 4GB Hitachi Microdrive, SD card slot, 320x480 hi-resolution colour display (with portrait and landscape viewing) and offer Bluetooth and 802.11b Wi-Fi wireless connectivity.

The LifeDrive handhelds will be powered by a 416MHz Intel XScale PXA270 processor and run on the Palm GarnetOS, which includes support for wireless connections such as Bluetooth.

The device will be a little larger than palmOne's latest high-end model, the Tungsten T5, sizing up at 4.7 inches tall, 2.8 inches wide, and a pocket-threatening 0.8 inches thick. It will weigh 6.8 ounces.

According to sources, the music-playing device will use Pocket Tunes and sync with Real's Rhapsody music service, suggesting that it could be seen as a turbo-charged challenger to Apple Computer's US$199 4GB iPod Mini.

NormSoft's Pocket Tunes is able to play MP3, WMA, Ogg Vorbis, and WAV files and the unit will also support full screen video and photo playback.

Business users will be catered for with the bundled DocumentsToGo software supporting Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Acrobat files.

The unit also comes with 'Camera Companion' software for transferring photos to and from the device, with 'Drive Mode' allowing users to plug their handheld into the USB port on a PC and have the microdrive appear as a removable drive.


The LifeDrive comes with USB 2.0, so transferring files onto the microdrive should be a fairly nifty business.

Despite black leather clad doomsayers predicting the death of the PDA, palmOne clearly thinks that a hard drive-based multimedia device able to take advantage of the immense software resources of the palm platform could be a winner.

There's certainly industry interest elsewhere, with Dell rumoured to be considering a hard drive based handheld.

Although there's been no official announcement from palmOne, the LifeDrive is expected to launch in the US on 18th May, 2005



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