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Sony Releases Compelling New PDA Models and Takes Aim at Palm


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Earlier this week, Sony announced the US launch of three new handhelds in the US market; the entry-level PEG-TJ27, WiFi enabled PEG-TJ37 and the high resolution PEG-TH55, signifying Sony’s desire to take on Palm’s top selling models, the Tungsten E and the Zire 71.

(PRWEB) February 15, 2004--Earlier this week, Sony announced the US launch of three new handhelds in the US market; the entry-level PEG-TJ27, WiFi enabled PEG-TJ37 and the high resolution PEG-TH55, signifying Sony’s desire to take on Palm’s top selling models, the Tungsten E and the Zire 71.

Currently, Palm’s most popular models account for over 50 percent of the retail market, while Sony holds a mere 20 percent market share. Recognizing the need for a greater market presence and noting the lackluster performance of its 2003 models, Sony launched its 2004 models with a very strong consumer value proposition.

In the PDA market, ARS data demonstrate that three main factors are driving the handheld market in early 2004 and will lead Sony to success:

1. Price Point – Top two selling models (Tungsten E/Zire 71) are priced $149 and $249, respectively. Sony looks to take on Palm’s market share by pricing its TJ37 at $299 and the TJ27 at $199.
2. Digital Camera - Palm’s popular Zire 71 has an integrated camera. Sony is following suit and offering a digital camera in all three new models.
3. Wireless – WiFi handhelds have grown from five percent in December to over 10 percent in January. WiFi notebooks now account for almost 70 percent of the retail market and are a huge consumer hit. Sony’s TJ37 and TH55 are both WiFi enabled.

PEG-TJ37

In a product by product comparison, the new Sony Clie PEG-TJ37 features a 320x320 resolution screen and measures 4.5” x 3.0” x 0.53”; weighing only 4.9 ounces. It features integrated WiFi technology and carries a $299 price tag. The PEG-TJ37 operates a Palm OS Garnet on a 200MHz Motorola i.MXL processor.

The TJ37’s top competitor, the Palm Zire 71, offers 16MB RAM, a 144MHz processor, a comparable 320x320 resolution and weighs 5.3 ounces, but lacks wireless technology, the latest must-have for savvy PDA users.

However, Sony’s TJ37 must battle Palm’s Zire 71 in market performance; the Palm Zire 71 release in April 2003 noted a huge price/performance advantage over other competing models and sold like gangbusters. Nonetheless, the launch of Sony’s TJ37 will have the first-to-market advantage with several weeks before Palm releases its spring lineup.

PEG-TJ27

The new PEG-TJ27 is the successor to the PEG-TJ25 and is very similar to the TJ37 but lacks wireless technology and has limited audio/video capabilities. The PEG-TJ27 features a 320x320 resolution screen and measures 4.5” x 3.0” x 0.53” and weighs a mere 4.9 ounces. It runs the Palm Garnet OS on a 200MHz Motorola i.MXL processor.

Compared to its closest competitor, the Palm Tungsten E, the Sony TJ27 offers a faster processor and an integrated digital camera, but lacks MP3 technology. Lined up side-by-side in a retail store, consumers will likely choose Sony’s PEG-TJ27 because of the digital camera feature, double the memory, a faster processor and a slimmer design, while carrying the same price point as Palm’s competing model.

PEG-TH55

The PEG-TH55 is Sony’s first high-resolution (320x480 resolution) handheld with a traditional tablet design.

The WiFi enabled TH55 runs the Palm OS Garnet on the Sony Handheld Engine, which offers a “speed-step” technology that varies the processor “RPMs” between 8MHz and 123MHz, depending on user demand. It has 32MB RAM and measures 4.9” x 3.0” x 0.6”, weighing only 6.5 ounces.

The unique feature on this handheld is Sony’s new proprietary application, the Clie Organizer. The Clie Organizer application replicates the basic PIM (personal information manager) organizer functions (Calendar, Address Book, To-Do List, and Memo Pad), but enables the user to add handwritten comments, icons and images to be attached and/or added to the appropriate pages.

In the retail wars, the Sony PEG-TH55 will also battle the Dell Axim X3i and the HP 4155, as well as Palm’s Tungsten T3. The three devices all feature 64MB RAM and incorporate Intel’s 400MHz XScale processor. The Dell and HP both run Windows Mobile 2003 and the Palm, runs the Palm OS. Sony’s PEG-TH55 is the only model with an integrated camera. Its hardware features are not as powerful as the competitors; with only 32MB RAM and a slower 123MHz processor.

To encourage consumers to ‘buy now’, Sony is offering customers who pre-order the PEG-TJ27, PEG-TH37 or the PEG-TH55 a free download of DataViz’ DocumentsToGo Professional Edition v6.0, valued at $39, as well as a free box of Ethel M chocolates. Let’s hope guys don’t give the chocolates away and keep the new handhelds for themselves!

In 2003, Sony offered its innovative handhelds at too high prices and its entry to mid-range devices that just “matched” the competition. The new product launch is compelling and will help Sony gain share in the handheld space.

{{Graphs and Images Available Upon Request: Please Contact Chalise Zolezzi}}

ABOUT ARS

ARS is a competitive market intelligence company that analyzes daily market, channel, and product changes and informs clients what is happening and why, analyzes relevant impacts, and predicts what to expect in the near term.

By: Sam Bhavnani, ARS Mobile Computing Analyst

For more information regarding ARS please visit: http://www.ars1.com.


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