Recently Palm debuted the Palm Centro smartphone, their first new handheld line in some time. The Centro is being positioned as a cellphone for those who are looking to upgrade from a basic phone to one with a more functionality such as email, instant messaging, and web browsing and has generally been receiving good reviews. The Centro comes with a full QWERTY thumbboard, a 320 x 320 touchscreen, and a camera that can shoot photos and video. For the first ninety days, it is available only through Sprint and will cost $99.99 with a new contract.
For some time now Palm has been struggling to regain its footing in the marketplace. The Centro may be the boost Palm desperately needs depending on the expectation of users. Herein lies the problem. The Centro is designed to appeal to a young audience, one that wants a phone with personality and style and says something about who they are. The trouble is that there is nothing revolutionary about the Centro. It’s basically a shinier and slimmed down Treo, nothing earth shattering. The Centro’s main selling point is about a price breakthrough not a technology one.
Marketing aside, the Centro is the direction Palm should be headed. It is good to see Palm going aggressively after the lower end of the marketplace. What works in Palm’s favor (but could also be their downfall) is that the Palm OS is more stable than almost anything on the market today making it a great candidate on a device for the masses. This makes Palm “exclusivity” deal for 3 months with Sprint a head scratcher. They are narrowing down their range of potential customers who can purchase their product at the same time they desperately need the masses to buy into their latest offering.
I wish Palm all the best. I have used a Palm device of some sort for some time now and would be saddened to see them become a niche player in the marketplace. Unless Palm can get their house in order with a new version of the Palm OS software, though, their options are disappearing to more innovative and nimble competitors. The Centro may not be enough of an advance to prevent this from happening but it is a good start.