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PalmOne: Users changing network to get Treo 600

And PDA market not as stagnant as some say, says CEO
Written by Tony Hallett, Contributor

And PDA market not as stagnant as some say, says CEO

PalmOne, the world's largest provider of PDAs, has claimed ongoing success with its Treo 600 smart phone - to the extent that users are switching network operators to get one.

The Treo 600, developed by Handspring before that company was acquired by PalmOne, is offered exclusively by Orange in France, Switzerland and the UK, as well as several US networks. Recently Orange claimed monthly average revenue per user (ARPU) of around €100, almost exactly double its average ARPU across all handsets.

Speaking to silicon.com, PalmOne CEO Todd Bradley said: "Fifty-four per cent of users in Switzerland have been network adds" - meaning they have come from other networks.

It has been traditionally difficult to tempt end users by tying handsets to particular networks. A poll of 143 silicon.com readers last December found that when asked 'Would you change your mobile operator just to use a certain handset?', 36 per cent answered 'Absolutely', 22 per cent said 'Not sure', and 42 per cent 'No way' - and that was a tech-savvy snapshot.

Figures for Orange in the UK and other operators overseas have not been disclosed but it seems the Treo 600 has been a success.

Despite growth in the smart-phone category Palm maintains that the standalone PDA business - where it still has most of its products - will continue to be important.

Vesey Crichton, PalmOne VP EMEA, said: "The whole world is thinking this sector is going to the smart phone. We don't see that. There is a sub-set [of users] that prefers a two-piece solution."

Some analysts have been more bullish than expected in their PDA forecasts. For example, Canalys has put European unit growth at 30 per cent this year, driven by products such as the low-end Palm Zire, PalmOne said.

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