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Tech - Computers

 April 25, 2003
Palm Unveils Plan To Capture China's Handheld Market

 Palm, Inc. has announced its plans to target handheld users in China. Kicking off with the opening of its sales and marketing support office in China and the launch of a full family of products, Palm Solutions Group aims to attract users in China to pick up a Palm handheld. Other announcements to help achieve this goal include the appointment of a key local distributor, the establishment of customer services and in-country technical support. A distribution center also will be set up in Hong Kong to facilitate the logistics of products throughout the Asia Pacific region.

According to IDC, China is the largest handheld-device market in the Asia Pacific region (excluding Japan) and accounts for 68 percent of total shipments in the region in calendar 2002. IDC also said China is expected to generate 14 percent year-on-year growth in 2003. With shipments of more than 21 million Palm handheld computers, Palm is the leading provider of products and solutions in the global market. "We're now selling the world's favorite handheld into the world's largest market," said Todd Bradley, president and chief executive officer, Palm Solutions Group. "With the strength of our products and solutions, combined with support from our local distributors, partners and leading developers, we hope to delight end-users and enterprise customers in China with the best handheld user experience possible."

Palm is introducing the Palm Tungsten T, Zire and m500 handhelds to China. These world-class handhelds provide a new level of functionality to all handheld users. Consumers will be able to choose to operate their Palm handheld in Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese or English language with CJKOS Chinese software system and PenPower handwriting software built into the handheld.

Palm will focus on building its market share in China in four areas:

- Target mobile professionals with a taste for innovation and excellence;
- Bring new users into the consumer segment with value devices for the first-time buyer;
- Target companies that aim to mobilize their work forces to enhance business competitiveness; and
- Foster initiatives to develop wireless handheld solutions and their adoption in China.

Distribution

Palm will build its distribution through a strategic network of distributor and enterprise partners. To help drive its distribution efforts, Palm has chosen to work with Digital China as one of its first distribution partners in China. Digital China will distribute a range of Palm product and accessories and will focus on bringing these to the retail channel as well as to the enterprise market. "We are very excited to help bring the world's leading handhelds to China," said Li Tong, product director, Consumer Electronic Group, General IT Unit of Digital China. "Palm's mobile solutions offer the best choice for Chinese businesses to capitalize on the efficiencies and competitive advantages of a global mobile infrastructure." Digital China is the largest IT products distributor and systems integrator in China, according to IDC.

"With the strengths of Digital China as a new distribution partner and its extensive network, we aim to drive adoption of Palm handhelds through China, helping individuals and companies capitalize on the efficiencies and competitive advantages of Palm handheld solutions," said Philip Chan, vice president, North Asia Sales, Palm Solutions Group.

Customer Support and Technical Service

In line with Palm's global strategy of focusing on service excellence, Palm aims to provide its customers in China with comprehensive after-sales service and support through a three-pronged approach - support from the retailer, over the phone (toll-free in China: 10800 650 5120), or via email (techsupport@palm-asia.com).

Additionally, in the event that repairs are required, customers can expect prompt service from the Suzhou repair center. This will be served by newly established drop zones in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, through which customers can return their Palm handhelds for repair servicing.

Distribution Center in Asia

In response to the ever-increasing importance of the North Asia region, both in terms of customer markets as well as a source of finished goods production, Palm in conjunction with its logistics services partner Kerry Logistics has established a Hong Kong distribution center to support its Asia Pacific customers, including China. This Hong Kong Center will play a pivotal role in providing Palm's distributors with an even more responsive and cost- effective supply chain.