September 9, 2009

Palm Announces Pixi Smartphone

Palm Inc. announced the release of a new handset called the Pixi on Wednesday, which the company said is lighter and cheaper than its breakthrough Pre smart phone launched in June, The Associated Press reported.

Pixi will be ready for the holiday season through Sprint Nextel Corp., which is currently the Pre's exclusive wireless carrier.

Palm has yet to release the Pixi's price tag, but assured it would cost less than the Pre.

Katie Mitic, Palm's senior vice president of product marketing, said the combination of announcing a new device and changing the price on the Pre was an aggressive attempt to pursue new customers in accessing the WebOS experience.

Apple Inc.'s iPhone and Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry devices have dominated the popular smart phone market in recent years.

The Pixi will be Palm's second attempt in under a year to use new software and streamlined designs to lure consumers. Smart phones made up 28 percent of consumer cell phone purchases in the second quarter, up 47 percent from the same period last year, according to market research firm NPD Group.

The Pixi also offers Sprint another opportunity to attract new customers and get current ones to "trade up" from regular cell phones. Sprint recently reported a second quarter loss of 257,000 subscribers.

Similar to the Pre, the Pixi will come with a touch-screen, full QWERTY keyboard and Palm's latest WebOS operating system that runs on 8 gigabytes of built-in memory.

The major difference between the Pre and the Pixi is that the new smart phone sports a slightly smaller screen and keyboard that both fit on the face of the candy bar-style handset. The Pre's keyboard slides out from the bottom of the phone.

The Pixi is also longer and slimmer than the Pre as well as being slightly lighter at nearly 3.5 ounces. The Pre's center button has been replaced with a tiny touch-sensitive bar that sits between the screen and keyboard. The Pre's screen will also be touch-sensitive for navigating the device.

The Pixi also got a camera upgrade to 2-megapixels and it contains two small speakers rather than the Pre's single large speaker.

The Pixi will include standard smart phone features like Global Positioning System, video and music players and a Web browser, but it won't offer Wi-Fi access.

Palm also announced a Facebook application will be released with the Pixi, although they have not said whether it will come loaded on the phone or will be available through Palm's online application store.

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


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