Palm appears to be set to discontinue the LifeDrive. Even at launch, I thought the category of “Mobile Manager” was a bit too murky to stand apart in the shrinking PDA market. Really, the LifeDrive was a hardware-driven product (just look at the name) and, just as we saw in the DAP market, it’s difficult for hard drives to compete in the under-8 GB segment. The LifeDrive had too much capacity to manage phone numbers and not enough for video. It also was an unfortunate omission that it lacked a kickstand for video viewing. Still, not only does Palm lose its top of the line, but its PDA offerings are now winnowed to three models — the TX, “classic” E2 and the compact if long-in-the-tooth Z22 with its grainy screen.
I’m a bit surprised that Palm hasn’t jumped onto the Internet Tablet bandwagon. It’s probably reluctant to bring another screen resolution into the market even though developer support is not the factor it once was in the PDA market. But now that the iPhone has raised the resolution bar, Palm may rethink the Treo’s screen size. The Treo packages everything well and is nothing if not practically-minded, but a less demanding user or certainly consumer has to be lured by the svelte profiles and lower complexity of a Motorola Q, Samsung BlackJack or T-Mobile Dash. Of course, this should be the year that we see Next Big Thing from Palm.