PalmOne Lifedrive: Bigger and Badder PDA

    May 9, 2005

PalmOne let information about their new Lifedrive Mobile Manager slip out. This new PDA will have a lot of groovy features although not a huge amount is known about it yet.

The Lifedrive will offer all the traditional features of the PDA but then go much further. PalmOne said they’ve built this device to allow users to integrate all the functions they really want in one device or as PalmOne put it, “digital everything”.

The little computer contains an Intel 416 XScale processor and a 320 by 480 color display. It has a 4 gb Microdrive from Hitachi. The device will handle music and video files. It will handle email and documents from various office suite programs. It has WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities and it will have an SD expansion slot.

This device looks to be integrating a lot of features from other types of handheld toys. The downloading of music, being able to drag files when connected to a PC, use as a flash drive of sorts and other functions make this thing handheld an all encompassing device.

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. PalmOne divides everything into 3 categories: smartphones, PDAs and the new mobile managers.

“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.

The Lifedrive will contain the Garnet OS instead of its own traditional OS. Prices will run for around $499 for this device according to Amazon although a release date has not been confirmed.

This announcement comes after a new report by Gartner had both good and bad news for PalmOne. PalmOne lost over 10% of their market share and moved to the number 2 slot for PDA manufacturer behind Blackberry. The good news is that PDA sales were up worldwide in the last quarter and looked to be improving. This new mobile manager might be what they need to kick back in.

John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.