Smart phones, or phones that enable Web access and e-mail, are heading for the mass market.
Palm's new $99.99 Centro, the sleeker, hipper update to the business-centric Treo, is the latest example of a phone that provides all the data-centric features of a business device with the price point and design of a consumer phone.
"What we've known as the smart-phone market is quickly becoming just the cell phone market," said Iain Gillott, founder of iGillottResearch. "These phones used to cost $500 and $600. Some still do, but we're seeing more and more of them come down in price and targeted for consumers."
Traditionally, in the United States, the smart phone market has been dominated by Research in Motion's BlackBerry devices and Palm's Treo line of phones. Initially, these devices were thought of as corporate productivity tools allowing people to send and receive corporate e-mail.
While the corporate market is humming along quite nicely, carriers and cell phone makers also see huge potential in the mass market where teen-agers and even soccer moms, who want e-mail access and Web surfing on the go, could benefit from smart phones. Of the 213 million cell phones operating in the United States today, only about 4 percent of them are smart phones, according to market research firm M:Metrics.www.news.com