In a move to expand its market, Palm Inc. on Monday unveiled a $99, entry-level handheld computer, hoping that students and casual shoppers will find the low cost digital assistant a better way to stay organized than jotting notes on scraps of paper.
The debut of "Zire," a monochrome, bare bones personal digital assistant, or PDA, comes as Palm, the leader of the market for pocket-sized computers, faces slowing demand, and aims to woo those who never before considered buying a PDA.
That market includes millions of homemakers, small-business owners and those who find managing a computer of any type about as much fun as a trip to the dentist.
While Palm considers its chief rival to be Microsoft Corp., which develops competing handheld software, it now faces a tougher opponent -- those loose pieces of scrap paper that people use to jot down grocery lists, phone numbers and random thoughts.
"Zire speaks to the 26 million who really want to replace, or at least augment, paper. They are using a combination of day planners or post-it notes, to organize their lives," Palm senior marketing executive David Christopher told Reuters.