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Palm Plans to Become One of Top 3 Smartphone Vendors in India by 2009

Wed Mar 19, 2008 - 1:06 AM EDT - By Jennifer Chappell


Update: I just read over at The Economic Times that Palm said on Wednesday that it may start outsourcing handsets from local manufacturers once sales pick up. According to the article, Palm has launched two models in India so far, and a third one is expected to be launched in the next six months.

From the article:

"We launched the first model in last September. This was targeted at the business class. The latest one, Centro, aims to catch up the younger generation. With these two and others in the coming days, we hope to be doing a good business in India," Palm's Regional Director (Asia pacific) Olivier Rozay told reporters after launching `Centro' here.

Palm hasn't intiated talks with local manufacturers about outsourcing yet, but would start outsourcing when sales pick up. According to the article, Palm may also set up an R&D centre in the country, but there is no concrete plan as of now.

livemint.com/The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Palm, Inc. plans to become one of the Top 3 smartphone vendors in India by next year, even though the company is facing competition from RIM and the iPhone, which hasn't yet been launched in India.

I reported yesterday on some analysts seeing the Palm Centro having an impact on Palm's margins. According to today's livemint article, Palm is attempting to regain market share that it lost to aggressive new rivals such as RIM, Nokia, and Apple. From the article:

“Going forward, we are going to have a stronger and innovative hardware engine—you will see that in the coming products,” said Olivier Rozay, regional director, Asia Pacific, Palm Australasia Pty Ltd. “With the launch of phones such as Centro, which is priced at Rs13,990 in India, we now have a much more affordable product for Indian users,” he added.

Before Palm launched the Centro in India, the lowest-priced Palm smartphone being sold in the country was the Treo 680, priced at Rs18,000. I saw on the Palm/India website that they have the White Centro with the gray highlighted keys. Nice. Research firm International Data Corp. found that about 450,000 units of smartphones with capabilities similar to Palm's Treo and RIM's BlackBerry were sold in India last year.

And speaking of RIM in India, I read over at our sibling site CrackBerry.com last Wednesday that there were reports all over the web saying that the Indian Government was demanding for RIM to either allow it to decrypt all emails or shut down the entire Indian Berry network at the end of the month. It was reported that the Indian Government wanted to monitor all incoming and outgoing BlackBerry email in the country. Sheesh! What the crap?! I certainly hope that won't be the case. The article also said that ISP's were concerned that if RIM complied with the demands, all encrypted wireless data would be open to spying, making ecommerce pretty much impossible.

CrackBerry.com put up another article on March 14th saying that "for now" all is happy once again in India. According to the article, India's telecommunications secretary Siddhartha Behura had stated that there is no question of banning at this point. and that the government is working out the issues with the four mobile service providers and RIM executives. Let's hope that this issue gets resolved quickly.

And now back to Palm planning to be one of the Top 3 in India. The livemint article says that Palm will be bundling apps like Facebook with its upcoming smartphones in order to attract more buyers. Quoted from the article:

“We are also going to launch the next version of Palm operating system by end of this year, which will be more suited for our sleeker and better-looking devices,” added Rozay.

Bundling Facebook sounds like a great plan Palm! I hope that Palm succeeds in becoming one of the Top 3 smartphone vendors in India by next year. The Centro should really boost some sales over there. It sure has been doing great here in the U.S.

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