MobileInfocenter

Palm Sells Its One-Millionth Centro

Palm Centro New ColorsPalm Inc. announced today that it has sold its one-millitionth Palm Centro smartphone. Palm is now shipping Centro in 10 countries worldwide, including Hong Kong, Singapore, India, the UK, Germany, Spain, Ireland, France and Italy, and its already-rapid momentum is set to grow as Palm debuts the product in additional countries around the globe. Palm says that the strong sales track demonstrates the $99 product's mass appeal to customers ready to get all the power of a smartphone at the price of a traditional mobile phone.

"The Palm Centro is flying off the shelves because users who want to step up to a smartphone see it as the perfect first choice," said Brodie Keast, senior vice president of marketing for Palm, Inc. "It has everything a person needs to stay organized and connected with everyone who is important to them. We're very excited about the Centro's near-instant popularity in the U.S. and think it's going to be a huge hit as it continues to make its way across the globe."

Increasingly, consumers are making the shift from traditional mobile phones to smartphones, motivated by the desire to do more with their phones and the arrival of lower-cost devices. Smartphones accounted for 11 percent of all mobile phone sales in 2007 in the United States, and this is expected to increase to 35 percent by 2011.(IDC, Palm Company data) A recent Palm survey of Centro customers highlighted this trend, indicating that 70 percent are first-time smartphone users. When compared to other Palm smartphones, Centro also is reaching almost double the number of women, more than double the number of customers under age 35, and nearly three times as many customers with a household income of less than $75,000.

"Smartphones are certainly not new to business professionals; however, now more than ever we are seeing consumers migrate toward these types of devices as form factors have become more appealing and price points are now competing with traditional mobile phones," said Ryan Reith, senior research analyst with IDC. "Palm's Centro plays right into the hands of the consumer looking for a more robust experience on their mobile phone. We definitely expect to see this trend continue worldwide."

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Nice

mikecane @ 3/31/2008 9:51:55 PM # Q
Palm has finally made something people want.

But Colligan - it's no iPhone.

And you should STILL resign.

RE: Nice
bhartman34 @ 3/31/2008 10:53:56 PM # Q
It's certainly no iPhone, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, because in some ways it's more useful than an iPhone, and it's also not trying to be one.

To me, the question is: How many of these do they have to sell to actually affect Palm's figures? And, can they follow up the Centro with some accessory that will prove equally as popular? If you had a device with the dimensions of a Mac Book Air that had wifi capability, that could make up for some of the Centro's shortcomings (e.g., the keyboard, screen and EDGE network, in the case of AT&T).

So I do think there are ways for Palm to capitalize on the popularity of the Centro. It'll be interesting to see what happens.

RE: Nice
Tuckermaclain @ 3/31/2008 10:55:19 PM # Q
This was just one device people on thisfurum have been clamoring for and it looks like a home run. Too bad Palm wasn't paying attention to our rantings. If they had looked at a few of LiveFaith's designs or the other "this is my ultimate Palm" descriptions they would be light-years ahead. A shrunken down 650 (Centro) wasn't even one of the best proposals to come from from this group.

RE: Nice
retrospooty @ 3/31/2008 11:28:04 PM # Q
They just need to diversify... Or should I say go back in time 3 years and diversify.

The Treo was always a great design and form factor... Its just that you cant only offer one. Imagine if Honda, toyota and chevy each had one car. Its rediculous.

Treo is good, Centro is good... Now lets get some alternatives to those as well. Something even smaller + something with a large screen and perhaps another model with slider or a fliplid.



RE: Nice
BaalthazaaR @ 3/31/2008 11:56:34 PM # Q
Yeah something TX sized with a slide out keyboard. You can see these with winmob, but I'd take one with any other OS.
RE: Nice
rcartwright @ 4/1/2008 12:03:19 AM # Q
The big problem Palm has with the Centro is razor thin margins on the sell thru. I don't know the exact numbers, but in looking at the gross on smartphone sell thru for FY2008
$523.67 per phone Q1-$302.2M-689,000 units
$411.66 per phone Q2-$282.4M-686,000 units
$330.61 per phone Q3-$275.4M-833,000 units

It does not appear that Centro sales are "making it up on the volume" as they say. Further, since they have sold 1M Centros in the last 6 months, its not too much of a leap to come to the conclusion that Centro sales have either been at the expense of Treo sales, or the Treo market is saturated till some refreshed models come out. For Palm's sake, lets all hope the new WM Treos raise revenue per phone.

"Many men stumble across the truth, but most manage to pick themselves up
and continue as if nothing had happened."
- Winston Churchill

RE: Nice
DrewT3 @ 4/1/2008 8:47:28 AM # Q
This is good news for Palm but it is really a one-off success. How many times will they be able to repackage the Treo 600 and still expect sales? The $99 Centro probably represents the last market they can sell that old design to.
The test for long term survivability will be when Palm releases a product with new software and we haven't seen new software from Palm in a LONG time.

RE: Nice
SeldomVisitor @ 4/1/2008 9:13:51 AM # Q
> ...It does not appear that Centro sales are "making it up on the
> volume" as they say. Further, since they have sold 1M Centros in
> the last 6 months, its not too much of a leap to come to the
> conclusion that Centro sales have either been at the expense
> of Treo sales, or the Treo market is saturated till some
> refreshed models come out...

"Surur" on TreoCentral had some numbers to address these thoughts:

- http://discussion.treocentral.com/showpost.php?p=1427428&postcount=8

He is a reader here as well, I believe, so may be able to update his own thoughts on this.

RE: Nice
LiveFaith @ 4/1/2008 11:01:52 AM # Q
tucker,

Thanks for the props. I feel like I've been beating a dead horse since the HVGA Zire 71 and Treo 490v. Finally Apple does it and Palm goes the opposite direction. The possibilities of where Palm would be right now had they just got the basics right since the Palm V are staggering.

Anyway, it's good to see that the Centro has been embraced by the general public. A sign that Palm's marketing department is in touch. Hopefully the Centro can buoy the Palm brand name and balance sheet long enough for Nova to get traction. Hope springs eternal.

Pat Horne

RE: Nice
hkklife @ 4/1/2008 12:14:37 PM # Q
This is good news and all but it's far too early for everyone at Palm to start getting sized for gold-threaded suits just yet.

I wouldn't call it that the Centro has been embraced by the mass market as much as it is people have embraced the $99 price point. Within 3-6 months, we'll have $100 or close to $100 BlackBerries (hipper with more "boardroom" stret cred), WinMob (flashier & much-loved by IT depts everywhere) and the inevitable cheaper/larger/faster 3G iPhones as well as the usual high-end WM 6 & 6.1 units. When Centro sales will likely stall, what can Palm do in light of the razor-thin margins?

What will Palm do to sustain Centro sales past the summer months? More new colors? Where's our "promised" Google Mobile Maps location update? Can Palm whip up a mildly refreshed Centro 2 for release this fall with, say, a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack, higher capacity stock battery and GMM location features in ROM?

Tthe saddest part of all of this is, aside from the lameduck 755p on Sprint/Verizon/Alltel and some leftover Treo 750/680's, is that Palm has no compelling higher-end offerings for users who might be on the cusp of purchasing a Centro but are turned off by the small screen/keys/battery/ weak specs. If Palm's sold (and are those sell-through figures?) 1 million Centros how many more could they have sold if they had a comparable WM version of the Centro (quad-band Treo 500, anyone?) or had it available on Verizon?

Furthermore, what's Palm going to use to target current Centro owners in 1-2 years' time who want to upgrade? A Nova machine? I doubt they can convince someone to go from a <$100 smartphone to a $400+ one. Once Joe Consumer has gotten spoiled by a $40 Centro from Best Buy or a free Centro from elsehwere, he'll expect an improved version of that device in 12-18 months at the same price point.

The Centro is basically the Tungsten|E of the smartphone world--a nice cheap effort but basically a last-gasp effort that's repackaging & respinning old tech. Remember, when Palm released the T|E & T|T3 were released in fall '03 the general sentiment (both here at PIC & elsewhere) at the time was: "Quite nice little units for the $. It'll be great when we can get a Cobalt-based version of this thing in a year or two" I don't get the general sense of anticipation and excitement in the community nowadays. People bought T|E's because of the Palm OS and to load with Palm OS software. People are buying Centros because they have a keyboard and do e-mobile e-mail and because they are cheap. It's CRUCIAL for Palm to keep "Palm OS" and "Palm" in the spotlight and in consumers' minds while Nova finishes its gestation period.


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

RE: Nice
hkklife @ 4/1/2008 12:17:19 PM # Q
Surur brings (on the TreoCentral link above) up a very good point. Palm is mimicing EXACTLY what happened to Motorola when the RAZR became a commoditized item and they couldn't/didn't want to fund the R&D dept. in '05/'06/'07 to produce compelling new follow-up designs. They milked the RAZR cash cow for all it was worth, much like Palm and the Treo 600 formfactor being continuously respun all the way to the current Centro.

And isn't the recent Motorola split frighteningly reminiscent of the Palm/PalmSource split from years ago?



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

RE: Nice
SeldomVisitor @ 4/1/2008 12:30:22 PM # Q
> ...Within 3-6 months, we'll have $100 or close to $100 BlackBerries
> (hipper with more "boardroom" stret cred), WinMob (flashier & much-loved by
> IT depts everywhere) and the inevitable cheaper/larger/faster 3G iPhones as
> well as the usual high-end WM 6 & 6.1 units...

Q9C is $99 now:

- http://www.engadget.com/2008/03/31/lime-green-motorola-q9c-headed-to-alltel-us-cellular/

And free on Letstalk.

RE: Nice
akalefty @ 4/1/2008 1:27:15 PM # Q
And isn't the recent Motorola split frighteningly reminiscent of the Palm/PalmSource split from years ago?

Not really: the Palm/Palmsource split was pretty cleanly along the lines of hardware/software. The Motorola split seems to create two companies that do both hardware and software, along product lines, "cell phones" and "everything else".


Semi-OT question for Lefty re: ALP
hkklife @ 4/1/2008 2:15:42 PM # Q
Lefty;

Forgive me if this has been addressed elsewhere but I'll ask it here again since we're on the topic of devices with more compelling specs than the Centro...

What sort of accomodations for data entry are built into ALP for device manufacturers? That is, what does Access envision as the "standard/default" means of data entry for devices running ALP? A Treo-style QWERTY board? How about an iPhone-esque onscreen keyboard? Up to the licensee?

How about stroke-based character recognition via stylus? Has Access licensed anything beyond Ezitext & Decuma? What about Jot/Graffiti 2 or "Classic" Graffiti from Xerox? Any discussions about licensing those in downloadable/purchasable plug-form to ease the migration pain for long-time Palm OS users? I remember Beersie's report from, oh, 18 months+ ago that clearly stated Graffiti of any kind was missing in that early build of ALP. Any change on that front?

If a licensee were to come to Access and say "We've got this large-screened iPhone killer designed & spec'd out in theory but we don't know how people are gonna input data on it and why should we stick ALP on it instead of WM 6.x ?"

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

RE: Nice
akalefty @ 4/1/2008 6:00:58 PM # Q
Good questions.

What sort of accomodations for data entry are built into ALP for device manufacturers?

We can support pretty much any input mechanism that I can think of (and I can think of a few). Out of the box, we do five-way navigation and a couple of flavors of touch-screen-ery, but there's not much to extending that, it's basically a plug-in architecture.

That is, what does Access envision as the "standard/default" means of data entry for devices running ALP?

It really depends on the specific device, on whether it has a touchscreen or not, whether it has a real keyboard or not, etc.

A Treo-style QWERTY board?

Absolutely.

How about an iPhone-esque onscreen keyboard?

Certainly.

Up to the licensee?

Entirely. We enable our customers to put out the devices they want, not the devices we think they need. What we demo is a pretty basic platform; it can be-and is designed to be-extended and customized to suit the customer's (and I'm talking about device manufacturers, primarily, and carriers, secondarily) requirements.

RE: Nice
SeldomVisitor @ 4/1/2008 6:30:04 PM # Q
> ...What we demo is a pretty basic platform; it can be-and is designed
> to be-extended and customized to suit the customer's (and I'm talking
> about device manufacturers, primarily, and carriers, secondarily) requirements.

Oh!

Just like Android!


RE: Nice
akalefty @ 4/1/2008 7:33:38 PM # Q
Just like Android!

Well, let's be fair. ACCESS has been offering ALP longer than Google's been offering Android, these are features that have been in ALP since Day One, and our platform is available for licensing today: you might more reasonably say that, as far as extensibility and customizability go, Android is "just like" the ACCESS Linux Platform.

(Except I suspect we're actually better. The bulk of the basic look and feel of an ALP-based system can be described and modified via a very few files, and the changes made there extend system-wide, into applications as well if they don't start customizing up their own widgets. There are other useful features in the vein in ALP.)

In any case, the actual degree and ease of customizability in Android remains to be demonstrated (just as the code for this "open source" project remains to be seen outside the Googleplex). We've shown both the basic ALP interface, as I described, as well as the Orange "Signature Accelerator Program" modifications (which are pretty extensive) at MWC earlier this year...


Is Palm licensing ALP?
Gekko @ 4/1/2008 7:37:55 PM # Q

if not, why not?

RE: Is Palm licensing ALP?
SeldomVisitor @ 4/1/2008 8:06:12 PM # Q
$15/phone on a $99 phone is too much (*).

==========

(*) So, okay, ALP may not be $15/phone. Msoft, however, IS (was) $15/phone so that's a pretty good datapoint to roughly price out ALP...[and we know that uSoft price due to contract words in a couple of PALM's filings which mention total cost and number of units those costs covered]


RE: Nice
hkklife @ 4/1/2008 9:30:25 PM # Q
Thanks for the thorough responses, Lefty.

A few more questions, if ya don't mind, now that I've got ALP and the Samsung i800 on my mind:

#1 Will there be fundamentally different versions of ALP on touchscreen/non-touchscreen devices (like WinMob Standard vs. WinMob Professional)

#2 Could a curmudgeonly owner of a large-screened ALP device, who keeps pressing onscreen buttons by accident for example, disable the touchscreen and make do with just 5-way navigation/job wheel/whatever for navigation?

#2 If possible, can you say a bit more about the stroke-based character input methods available to ALP licensees/end users? Still just Decuma? Are you at liberty to say anything at all in regards to Xerox/CIC/Palm Inc. and Graffiti 1/2/Jot support?

#4 Hypothetically, what would happen if a legacy OS 4.x (or earlier) Palm OS app were run that required certain Graffiti strokes to trigger some function? Are these supported by the Garnet emulation layer and/or what happens if someone tries to run a legacy Palm OS app on a non-touchscreen ALP device? Or will Access require devices to have a touchscreen present in order to run legacy Palm OS apps?

#5 What does ALP use as its native filesystem? FAT32? Does it support NTFS via a FUSE module and/or have there been any discussion for FAT64 or HFS support? Does ALP interact seamlessly with external storage media + internal storage space as one contiguous block?

#6 Is there any kind of provision for USB MSC (mass storage compliance) for drag'n drop adding of files (aka "DriveMode") and/or data backup onto a PC without Hotsync/ALP Desktop installed? We've seen this feature on a handful of dumbphones & smartphones (SE & Nokia come imediately to mind-nothing CDMA-based AFAIK) and it'd be splendid to see this trend continue.

Thanks for the time & answers!

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

RE: Nice
akalefty @ 4/1/2008 11:03:31 PM # Q
Is Palm licensing ALP?

Not at the moment. As for why, you'd have to ask them, I honestly don't know their reasoning.


RE: Nice
akalefty @ 4/1/2008 11:13:27 PM # Q
#1 Will there be fundamentally different versions of ALP on touchscreen/non-touchscreen devices (like WinMob Standard vs. WinMob Professional)

No, not at all. Same platform.

#2 Could a curmudgeonly owner of a large-screened ALP device, who keeps pressing onscreen buttons by accident for example, disable the touchscreen and make do with just 5-way navigation/job wheel/whatever for navigation?

Depends on the circumstances under which (and whether) the licensee supports disabling the touchscreen on their device.

#2 If possible, can you say a bit more about the stroke-based character input methods available to ALP licensees/end users? Still just Decuma? Are you at liberty to say anything at all in regards to Xerox/CIC/Palm Inc. and Graffiti 1/2/Jot support?

Can't say much more than what you've cited here.

#4 Hypothetically, what would happen if a legacy OS 4.x (or earlier) Palm OS app were run that required certain Graffiti strokes to trigger some function? Are these supported by the Garnet emulation layer and/or what happens if someone tries to run a legacy Palm OS app on a non-touchscreen ALP device? Or will Access require devices to have a touchscreen present in order to run legacy Palm OS apps?

In general, Graffiti works fine in Garnet VM. If it works on Garnet, the odds are good that it'll work on ALP in emulation. If you don't have a touchscreen device, Garnet VM is not going to work very well, sorry.

#5 What does ALP use as its native filesystem? FAT32? Does it support NTFS via a FUSE module and/or have there been any discussion for FAT64 or HFS support? Does ALP interact seamlessly with external storage media + internal storage space as one contiguous block?

We use cramfs and jffs2 internally. We can support FAT32 media, but there's no out-of-the-box support of NTFS, HFS or FAT64. Those could be added easily enough if a customer wanted them.

#6 Is there any kind of provision for USB MSC (mass storage compliance) for drag'n drop adding of files (aka "DriveMode") and/or data backup onto a PC without Hotsync/ALP Desktop installed? We've seen this feature on a handful of dumbphones & smartphones (SE & Nokia come imediately to mind-nothing CDMA-based AFAIK) and it'd be splendid to see this trend continue.

We support a full USB implementation (including USB-on-the-Go), so all other things being equal, a "mass storage profile" should be presented by the device.

RE: Nice
hkklife @ 4/1/2008 11:51:20 PM # Q
Thanks for the info!!

P.S. I'd never even consider NOT having a touchscreen device but I was just curious to see how Garnet emulation was going to fare in a non-touchscreen environment.

Believe it or not, I actually halfway expected Palm to release a cheap, cut-down, half-arsed non-touchscreen 5.x device a while back.



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

RE: Nice
twrock @ 4/2/2008 12:38:25 AM # Q
As long as you are in the question answering mood.......

David, I'm assuming ALP has something available for Chinese character handwriting recognition as well, yes?


"twrock is infamous around these parts"
(from my profile over at Brighthand due to my negative 62 rep points rating)

RE: Nice
akalefty @ 4/2/2008 2:37:51 AM # Q
Certainly devices intended to be marketed in China will.


RE: Nice
akalefty @ 4/2/2008 2:39:33 AM # Q
P.S. I'd never even consider NOT having a touchscreen device but I was just curious to see how Garnet emulation was going to fare in a non-touchscreen environment.

Well, it's a trade-off. Touch screens increase both cost and thickness; they also tend to be on the fragile side...

RE: Nice
nastebu @ 4/2/2008 10:37:27 AM # Q
Forgive my technical ignorance in advance.

Lefty, while we have you in a positive conversation, with ALP so open to modification, will third party applications work across all the ALP phones? Won't the market become fragmented?

RE: Nice
akalefty @ 4/2/2008 10:47:23 AM # Q
No, the degree of fragmentation for most applications should be nonexistent. None of the customization capabilities I describe change the way a program works, just the way it looks. That said, if a device manufacturer or carrier wants to add specific capabilities to their device, that call for specific (new) APIs, obviously the use of those idiosyncratic APIs/capabilities won't necessarily transfer to other devices.

For what it's worth, we did a demo more than a year ago, where we simply compiled plain old desktop GPaint for ARM; it ran fine-i.e. with zero changes from the desktop version-on an ALP device.

Reply to this comment

Comparison with 'PDA Sales' ???

sadams @ 4/1/2008 5:33:45 AM # Q
Hi,
Does anyone have any interesting/relevant/comparable sales figures for "Traditional PDA" devices from years gone by.

Context:
I have had a few devices over the last 10 years: Palm Professional, M505, T3, TX

and am one of many here who feels like a loyal customer deserted by Palm and finds it hard to understand why they no longer want my business.

However, it would be interesting to understand the numbers (sales, margins etc.) a bit better.

i.e. am I (and some of you) part of a loyal yet demanding and hard to please, insignificant (in terms of volume) market which Palm's shareholders/investors would rather ignore for better returns in the "smartphone" market.

So... anyone track this stuff.. anyone got any reliable nos?

Intelligent opinions/rants/jokes all enjoyed too of course... but I am requesting "facts" not opinion. :-)

Steve (UK)

===========
Steve Adams
===========

RE: Comparison with 'PDA Sales' ???
SeldomVisitor @ 4/1/2008 8:10:56 AM # Q
If you can use PalmInfocenter's search function (I cannot for some reason) then there are more than a couple articles right here with nice charts, etc oabout something the same or very similar to what you want.

Maybe "IDC" or "Canalsys" (sp?) as partial search terms would narrow things down.

RE: Comparison with 'PDA Sales' ???
SeldomVisitor @ 4/1/2008 8:12:14 AM # Q
It's "Canalys".

RE: Comparison with 'PDA Sales' ???
sadams @ 4/1/2008 10:03:28 AM # Q
Hi SV - thanks for the pointer.
I did have a quick search as you suggested but there were tons of hits and i don't have the time/inclination to dig for it.
I was hoping somebody here (someone even sadder than me on this stuff!) may have such nos to hand.

Cheers,
S.

===========
Steve Adams
===========

Reply to this comment

Surprised

PacManFoo @ 4/1/2008 9:16:44 AM # Q
The Hasbro CEO was surprised that Palm has made such splash in the toy phone market. They still have a long way to go to reach the sales of the Hannah Montana phone but with more colors coming out all the time this may be a serious competitor to the Dora Explorer and Elmo models.

The makers of Tampax are considering a new ad campaign where you can buy a case of Tampax and get a free Centro. The "Don't Miss Aunt Flo's Call" campaign could put a cramp in Palm's competitors sales.

PDA's Past and Present:
Palm TX (Number 2)
Palm - IIIxe, Vx, M500, M505, Tungsten T, TX
Handspring - Edge, Platinum, Deluxe
Sony - SJ22, UX50
Casio-EM500
Apple - MP110, MP2000, MP2100

RE: Surprised
TooMuch @ 4/1/2008 11:02:43 AM # Q
:0))

RE: Surprised
hkklife @ 4/1/2008 2:23:13 PM # Q
PacManFoo;

Were you around back in the glory days of the Claudia Schiffer Palm V? How about the Michael Jordan m100? Or even the trashy 9/11 tie-in "patriotic" red & blue m500s in 2001?!?

Classic stuff!



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

RE: Surprised
PacManFoo @ 4/1/2008 5:11:12 PM # Q
My second Palm was the special edition Gold Vx. :)

PDA's Past and Present:
Palm TX (Number 2)
Palm - IIIxe, Vx, M500, M505, Tungsten T, TX
Handspring - Edge, Platinum, Deluxe
Sony - SJ22, UX50
Casio-EM500
Apple - MP110, MP2000, MP2100
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