Palm making bid for Europe

US handset manufacturer and former PDA champ, Palm Inc. is gearing up for a push into Europe backed by a multi-million dollar marketing spend it says will put the company’s phones into the hands of millions of Europeans.

At the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona on Tuesday, the company’s senior vice president of global markets, John Hartnett, said that Palm’s worldwide expansion strategy means re-focusing on top European carriers and capturing hearts in the mass market.

“We are going to the mass market [in Europe] with a $28m marketing spend. we’re refocusing on the top players in the European market and we’ll be delivering products across all price points.” Asked what competitive edge Palm thought it had over established European players, Hartnett said: “Ease of use.”

According to John Delaney, senior analyst at Ovum, Palm will need every cent of its marketing budget to penetrate Europe. “Palm in Europe has no brand presence and when you are going up against the likes of Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson, that is absolutely vital.” Delaney wasn’t impressed with Palm’s assertion that “ease of use” would be its key to the European door. “They [handset vendors] all say that,” Delaney said, “it’s more of a hygiene factor than a competitive advantage.”

Delaney wondered how Palm would target the mass market, given its products are usually associated with enterprise users. “Its handsets are not designed for the mass market. they’re not sexy and there’s a real price point issue with Palm. The only way operators will run with handsets that expensive will be with long contracts and subsidies and I can’t see that happening.”

However, Hartnett believes, “the real growth is from the younger mass market which wants devices for both business and personal use and that’s what we do. This is the start of the smartphone revolution, not the end and our strategy with Microsoft and WinMob is to access those 130 million Exchange customers worldwide.”

Currently Palm has partnerships with Orange in France with its Treo 680 and a pan-European deal with Vodafone using its Treo 750 but Hartnett refused to name any new partners, preferring to hint that if and when they do sign up they will be “in the top ten”.


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