MobileInfocenter

Palm Announces New Centro Accessories & Discontinues MAP Policy

Centro Desktop CradlePalm's recent May 1st newsletter to retail and reseller partners contains a variety of interesting tidbits relating to new peripheral announcements, product EOL announcements and a change in reseller pricing strategies.

First off, Palm has quietly announced two new branded peripherals for the Centro smartphone line. The first is a small, no-frills desktop cradle designed for the smaller Centro form-factor priced at $29.99 (3401WW). This cradle, unlike the excellent older Palm Treo cradle kit, does not appear to support the charging of a spare battery and looks surprisingly similar to the classic wedge-shaped Universal Connector Hotsync cradle used by Palm from the 2001's m500 line all to the way to 2003's Tungsten T3. This is the same cradle that Ryan photographed when visiting with the Palm reps at the CTIA show in March.

Palm's second news product is a Centro Audio Adapter at $9.99 (3397WW). This is likely just a revised version of the existing Palm headphone adapter that I reviewed back in 2006. That old design was terribly bulky and quite fragile so hopefully Palm has improved somewhat on that product's design. Of course, Palm's refusal to follow RIM and many other handset makers by including an industry-standard 3.5mm stereo headphone jack in their smartphones would mitigate the need for these cumbersome adapters and underperforming proprietary headphone solutions, such as this one from Palm that I reviewed last year.

A quick search online turned up a handful of merchants with these product SKUs already in their systems but none appear to have them in stock for sale and some e-tailers are listing these products with higher prices than Palm's MSRP. The Centro cradle is available for purchase currently in Palm's online store but there is no sign of the new Audio Adapter.

In other Palm-branded accessory news, the 512mb microSD card has been EOL'd and Palm has lowered the prices on their 1GB ($19.99), 2GB ($34.99), and 4GB ($59.99) microSD/SDHC cards to be a bit closer to the street prices by other flash memory manufacturers. However, Palm's recommended street pricing is still nearly twice what comparably sized cards from memory companies such as A-DATA and Transcend are available for online from reliable merchants. It is surprising that Jon Rubinstein & Co. have not decreed that Palm exit the price-sensitive, ultra-competitive flash memory market, as it would not seem a logical fit for the company's long-term goals, even though they are merely rebranding existing cards with considerable markup.

Minimum Advertised Price Policy
Treo headphone adapterFinally, in what may be an ominous sign or a harbinger for more aggressive marketing from Palm, the company has quietly announced plans to discontinue its MAP policies (Minimum Advertised Price Policy) effective June 1st. In a nutshell, this policy appears to have been previously enforced by Palm to keep margins high for resellers and prevent cutthroat price competition amongst advertised sale prices, both print and electronic. The lifting of this ban could mean that Palm is looking to become much more aggressive with promoting their products with little regard for maintaining their margins. It could also be indicative of Palm looking to dramatically reduce their total number of SKUs offered for sale and/or a hint that Palm may completely exit the traditional retail brick & mortar retailers to focus on online sales and through carrier stores.

Article Comments

 (12 comments)

The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. PalmInfocenter is not responsible for them in any way.
Please Login or register here to add your comments.

Start a new Comment Down

It's a start...

bhartman34 @ 5/7/2008 3:15:47 PM # Q
I was hoping that Palm would adopt this strategy: Sell the Centro for a frugal price, and then try to make it up on accessories. If they can sell a lot of accessories for the Centros they've sold, it might make up for the lower cost on the Centro. They could conceivably follow up with a new Centro external keyboard. I don't see a lot of new hardware or software coming out for the Centro (since I don't think the hardware is all that different from the Treo), but if they can tie the hardware to the Centro model somehow, they can get the legions of people who are using the Centro as their first Palm.

RE: It's a start...
hkklife @ 5/7/2008 4:14:06 PM # Q
A sort of pointless strategy IMO.
Why?

Palm's closed all of their retail stores & kiosks (save a single location)

Office Depot, Circuit City and CompUSA have closed up shop or bailed on Palm's products entirely.

Last I checked, Staples, BB, and Office Max had a bare handful of old accessories and a few PDAs and looked like they were ready to dump those at any moment. Certainly nothing in the way of ANYTHING Centro-related!

That leaves Franklin Covey and online (Palm.com, Newegg, Amazon etc) plus whatever Palm can convince the carriers to offer in their corporate stores (nothing with Palm branding, judging by the shelves of my local VZW corporate flagship store).

I don't think the ultra cool hipsters/students/young professionals/soccer moms Palm's targeting with the Centro are the types who will run out and buy a bunch of memory cards, dorky external keyboards etc. They're also not the type who will purchase software online or even learn how to bother Hotsyncing and installing add-on apps (thus the Centro's strong suite of bundled applications). At best the target audience for the Centro may snag a car charger and a case or maybe a spare AC charger or a (non-Palm) BT headset.

Palm's strategy of prematurely snuffing the life out of the PDA line is really going to hurt them as the lose their remaining foothold in the retail market. Along with that they'll lose the visibility/awareness afford by store signage and products in B&M retail stores (still the average consumer's primary means of seeing new product).


Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p

RE: It's a start...
bhartman34 @ 5/7/2008 6:36:47 PM # Q
Office Depot, Circuit City, et. al are irrelevant when it comes to the Centro. That's because people who want the Centro probably aren't going to buy it that way. They're going to buy the heavily subsidized versions put out by AT&T and Verizon (in the US). Best Buy has the black Centro (Sprint) for $319. Who in their right mind would pay that, when you can buy one from Sprint for one third the price?

And the other thing is, you're not talking about just any phone. A Palm phone is very closely tied to their Web site (e.g., for updates, bonus software, registration, etc). There are a lot of ways for this to come back to Palm, in the end, in a way it wouldn't necessarily if you were to buy something like a Nokia feature phone, or even a Blackberry. (The most you can apparently do at the Blackberry Pearl site is download pretty pictures of the phone.) One of the virtues of this is that when you do go on to the Palm site, you get to see all the neat things you can do with the phone with a little extra investment. Sure, a soccer mom might never need a geeky keyboard, but that 20-something girl walking out of the office building in the Verizon ad just might! ;)


RE: It's a start...
bhartman34 @ 5/7/2008 6:43:58 PM # Q
Here's the ad I was talking about. :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCHKGUUxpbE

RE: It's a start...
bhtooefr @ 5/7/2008 7:18:32 PM # Q
bhartman34: True, but I do think you can get the phone at a subsidized price, too, at Best Buy.

IIRC, it was $90 for a new line - $10 cheaper than getting it from a Sprint store.

RE: It's a start...
hkklife @ 5/7/2008 7:22:30 PM # Q
I'd buy a Centro at full retail (CDMA) or especially unlocked (GSM) in a heartbeat if I didn't want to commit to a 2yr contract and/or be tied to a data plan. Being tied to a flaky Palm Inc. device running the antiquated Palm OS isn't my idea of riding the wave of innovation for the next 2 years. But, everyone has different expectations and usage habits. I'm glad that the prices for unlocked prices have come down somewhat over the past few years so that we actually have a reasonable choice in the matter.

For example, someone on TreoCentral was just posting the other day how they successfully manage with their Treo/Centro without a data plan. They have a voice plan and unlimited text messaging. Yahoo sends a SMS when they get a new email and that person is able to figure out if the email is important enough to necessitate getting online to read the rest of the message...just from a few lines words of text in the SMS.

So everyone will have different usage habits and preferences and kudos to Palm for recognizing that. But if Palm really cared about pushing add-on peripherals for the Centro, don't you think they'd not have EOL'd their add-on batteries before they even had time to really be tested on the open market (see last month's PIC story)?

Again-and please correct me if you have experienced differently--but most coworkers/friends/colleagues who have non-BB & non-Apple "smart" devices (WM & Palm OS) seldom (if ever) register their devices, install ROM updates, purchase or install add-on software etc. Heck, most Treo/Centro owners I know don't even Hotsync their devices!

For the young hipster audience Palm is trying to reach ("meeting up with friends", "Your shorcut to happpy hour" etc), the bundled apps & wireless connectivity are good enough.

Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p

RE: It's a start...
bhartman34 @ 5/8/2008 9:49:59 AM # Q
Again-and please correct me if you have experienced differently-but most coworkers/friends/colleagues who have non-BB & non-Apple "smart" devices (WM & Palm OS) seldom (if ever) register their devices, install ROM updates, purchase or install add-on software etc. Heck, most Treo/Centro owners I know don't even Hotsync their devices!

Actually, the people I know who own these device do most of those things. They don't install ROM updates (that I know of) and they may not purchase much software, but they definitely register their devices (if only to get the warranty) and they absolutely Hotsync. It's difficult for me to even see the point of owning such a device if you don't sync it.

Add-on software is more hit-or-miss. They're likely to install free update software (e.g., Docs To Go) than they are to actually pay for something. But they definitely aren't averse to buying add-on hardware (e.g., car chargers, mounts, and cheaper things like screen protectors and styli).

The point is, new Palm users are more likely to go to the Web site than new BlackBerry users, because the devices are more closely tied to them. (Hell, there's even "My Centro" on the device now, which connects you with several pieces of new software.)

And while I think the advertising campaign they've been on has been ridiculous (because it doesn't differentiate the Palm OS at all), the one benefit they have in targeting the younger crowd is that these buyers are much more heavily Net-centric, so you're more likely to get them to log on to the site.

The strategy seems to be the same that you'd use for razors: Sell the handles cheap and make it up on the blades. I don't know if it'll work, but they're certainly creating enough of a market for themselves.

RE: It's a start...
bhtooefr @ 5/8/2008 11:03:52 AM # Q
Very true, but I could see people thinking it's just a text messaging/IM/e-mail platform.

Especially as that's what they're marketing it as...

RE: It's a start...
JackG @ 5/8/2008 4:13:54 PM # Q
I just wanted to point out to BHartman that the Centro is not available at Verizon, but rather Sprint. You used Verizon in your comments. Everyone who uses Palm devices knows that Verizon is the last to pick up a device.

RE: It's a start...
bhartman34 @ 5/9/2008 1:06:15 PM # Q
I just wanted to point out to BHartman that the Centro is not available at Verizon, but rather Sprint. You used Verizon in your comments. Everyone who uses Palm devices knows that Verizon is the last to pick up a device.

Thanks, Jack. In my second comment, I said:

They're going to buy the heavily subsidized versions put out by AT&T and Verizon (in the US). Best Buy has the black Centro (Sprint) for $319. Who in their right mind would pay that, when you can buy one from Sprint for one third the price?

What I should've said in the first sentence was

They're going to buy the heavily subsidized versions put out by AT&T and Sprint (in the US).

I knew that Sprint was the carrier, and mentioned them subsequently, but I messed up in the first sentence (and unfortunately, didn't catch it).

The other Verizon comment I made was about a commercial with the type of user I thought Palm should be marketing to (the woman walking out of the office building). I didn't mean to imply that that was a Centro ad. :)

Reply to this comment

Cradle on the way

Doo @ 5/8/2008 1:07:35 AM # Q
I just ordered the cradle as a impulse buy for my new Centro. It's on the way with the GPS kit. I'll let ya know.

RE: Cradle on the way
Doo @ 5/8/2008 2:23:10 PM # Q
Just got it. It's good with a few draw backs.

1st. The usb cable is hard wired in so if you plan on useing it as nightstand charging station you'll have an extra cable.

2nd. No sync button. I have BT and cable/cradle syncs to having to change from the screen is a bit of a pain.

but all in all it's not bad.

Reply to this comment
Start a New Comment Thread Top

Account

Register Register | Login Log in
user:
pass: