PalmOne Updates Tungsten with E2

PalmOne today announced Tungsten E2, an update to its popular Tungsten E. E2 adds Bluetooth wireless capability, longer battery life, a better display and flash memory to the PDA standby, which has been on the market since October 2003.

The flash memory ensures that even if the batteries drain completely, the device will retain all the data contained within.

Market Slipping

“I see it as two steps forward — Bluetooth and a brighter display over the E — and one backward: higher price (US$249 versus $199),” Neil Strother, senior analyst, mobile devices at In-Stat, told TechNewsWorld in an e-mail.

The PDA market has been in decline for three years, with shipments down 13 percent in 2004. Consumers aren’t clamoring for updated models, either. “If someone has a Tungsten E, they probably wouldn’t upgrade to an E2,” Philip Solis, senior analyst for wireless connectivity, ABI Research, told TechNewsWorld.

Upgrading to Smartphones

“It’s hard to say what consumers will do,” Strother said. “My guess is that most will wait until they tire of their current one, then upgrade. Will they upgrade to another PDA? I don’t think so. My guess is most will want a smartphone [Treo, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile device], since it gives them a chance to have one converged device.”

The E2 looks and feels almost exactly like the E. It has an Intel 200-MHz XScale processor, an upgrade from the E, which had a Texas Instruments 126-MHz chip.

Cobalt on Deck

The E2 is an intermediate bump before PalmSource, developer of the Palm OS, introduces the anticipated next generation PalmOS 6, also known as Cobalt, and any devices that will run it. No release date has been set for Cobalt, which was given to developers in January 2004.

The operating system is being built from the ground up and is based on intellectual property from Be, Inc., which Palm acquired in August 2001. The new OS will feature enhanced multimedia and smartphone support which Solis said may help the company compete against Microsoft’s PocketPC operating system and the multifunction devices that many consumers now favor.

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