PalmOne hails the 'Mobile Manager'

New handheld device category, apparently

PalmOne today responded to mounting speculation that it is preparing a fourth family of handheld products. It is to launch a "new category" of mobile-computing products this month - called the "Mobile Manager".

This confirms recent reports that the PDA pioneer was preparing a hard drive-based device running the customary Palm OS but pitched more as a personal data carrier than one of its more PIM-centric devices.

Originally rumoured to be called the LifeDrive, then the Tungsten X, the unit was most recently dubbed the LifeDrive Mobile Manager, a name confirmed by an entry that appeared on Amazon.com last week.

Mobile Manager is pitched at "a growing number of people today want access to greater volumes of digital business, personal, entertainment and online content that is as mobile as they are". The Mobile Manager devices "are designed for customers who are eager to take full advantage of the trend toward 'digital everything' - from documents and email to music, images and video, as standalone files or in organised folders".

Palmone today said it would "deliver a new category of mobile-computing product that will let customers fuse their own mix of personal and business content in ways never before possible in either handheld computers or smart phones".

The Mobile Managers will sit alongside PalmOne's three other product brands: Zire, Tungsten and Treo.

As we suggested last week, PalmOne is thinking of a cross between pocket hard drives, USB Flash disks, PDAs and media players, and has come up with a unit that is, in essence, removable storage with the ability to view and interact with data.

But is this jack-of-all-trades the right device for the job or will people prefer separate smart phones, iPods and the like? Either way, PalmOne has little choice but to drive the evolution of the PDA this way if the device is to ever have a future as something more than the front-end of a GPS navigation system.

According to the Amazon.com LifeDrive page, the device will ship in just over a week's time, for around $500. ®

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