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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Palm unveils slimmer smartphone (Mobile, cell, phone, pda, review, tech, David, Lim, Auckland, NZ)

Palm have unveiled a new phone, the Palm Pixi, aimed at younger consumers.

The new handset follows the launch of the Palm Pre earlier this year, which is regarded by many as as a competitor to Apple's iPhone.

Palm are making a concerted effort to resurrect their fortunes after once dominating the personal digital assistant (PDA) market.

The phone will initially be sold in the US through Sprint, but there are still no details on the European release.

Like the Pre, the Pixi will run on the firm's new WebOS operating system and comes with a touch screen and Qwerty keyboard, but without wi-fi.

Ian Fogg, an analyst with market research firm Forrester Research, said that Palm were launching a "revolutionary product".

"Palm are a relatively small company and most firms need a portfolio of handsets to succeed.

"This is the second phone they have launched and although they have altered the form [from the Pre] they have kept the touch screen and Qwerty keypad," he said.

Historically Qwerty keypad phones were not very popular in Europe, as they were seen as little more than a business tool. However, they are growing in popularity and Mr Fogg says that they are now more popular than phones with a touch screen.

"Look at other companies, they tend to offer one or there other; there are a few firms - such as Nokia with its N97 - that has both touch screen and keyboard, but they are the exception not the rule.

"What Palm is trying to do is offer the best of both worlds," he added.

WebOS

Palm has said its operating system has been built with the web in mind, so it automatically organises contacts and information accessed via the handset.

The web focus has led many to portray the two phones as a rival to the iPhone. The rivalry got more intense in early June when Apple unveiled the iPhone 3GS which had a faster chipset inside.

Palm's chairman - Jon Rubinstein - said the firm was creating "a new, more intuitive smartphone experience" and that the Pixi would help bring "a unique experience to a broader range of people who want enhanced messaging and social networking".

As well as iPhone, Palm also face competition from the HTC Hero - a touch screen phone built around Google's Android operating system.

While European firms dominated the initial development of mobile phones, today innovation is now coming from North America, especially when it comes to internet capable handsets.

"Apple's iPhone, Google's Android, Canadian firm Rim's BlackBerry and now Pre have all turned the concept of the phone into a mobile data device," said Mr Fogg.

Palm say the Pixi will go on sale in the US before Christmas, but have yet to confirm a price.

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