From my Information Week daily feed is this Reuters article re: RIM - Consumer
I have no $ interest and make no representation, only passing on.
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By Reuters
InformationWeek

Oct 18, 2006 04:48 PM

TORONTO - Palm Inc. is confident it can hold its own with the likes of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. in the race to expand the traditional corporate market for wireless e-mail devices into the consumer realm, a Palm executive said Wednesday.

"Many of our competitors have tried to come down from business into the consumer side," Michael Moskowitz, Palm's vice-president, Americas International, told Reuters in an interview. "We've always been there. Our DNA is very consumerish."

Sunnyvale, California-based Palm, which makes the Treo line of devices, launched its answer to RIM's consumer-aimed and multimedia-heavy BlackBerry Pearl last week with the unveiling of its Treo 680.

Like the Pearl, the 680 also has a host of multimedia features and is sleek in its design, as manufacturers move away from larger, bulkier handsets.

While wireless e-mail devices, or smartphones, as they are also known, have become a staple for business professionals, they have yet to gain acceptance in the general consumer market.

Penetrating that large, lucrative market is the next frontier for the industry. Palm and competitors such as RIM and Motorola are expected to work hard at building early share.

Moskowitz cited statistics that predict by 2011, 25 percent of all mobile handsets will be smartphones.

"I think overall, we're trying to tackle the addressable market and the addressable market is the cellphone market today," he said shortly after the Canadian launch of another Treo device, the 700wx.

He conceded that cost is a key barrier to widespread consumer acceptance of the feature-rich -- and thus more expensive -- smartphones.

Not only are the devices pricier than mass-use cellphones, but service plans offered by carriers are still expensive, compared with classic voice and text-message mobile plans.

"People who use (smartphones) love them, it's just a matter of getting them over the cost hurdle," Moskowitz said, adding "I do think we're probably still a couple of years away from really mass adoption of these devices."

Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM is also very cognizant of this. When it launched the Pearl with service provider T-Mobile in the United States in September, observers cheered the relatively low cost of both the device and the service plan.

The key to winning users will be simplicity and the usability of a smartphone's features, rather than an overwhelming number of functions, Moskowitz said.

"At this point, I don't think it's about big shifts -- it's about streamlining things that we already have done," he said.

And competing with big industry names won't be a new challenge for Palm, either, he added.

"I think we've been doing that for a number of years," he said. "We've always been under tremendous competition."

By: Wojtek Dabrowski

Copyright 2006 Reuters. Click for Restrictions