Palm Debuts Customizable 'Pixi' Smartphone

Palm offers Sprint customers the Pixi, a smartphone with updated Facebook connectivity and a limited-edition artists series featuring numbered, custom designed back panels.

Handset maker Palm announced a thin, compact smartphone called the Pixi and powered by the company's webOS platform. Though no specific release date was set, Palm plans to release the phone in time for the holiday season. Network operator Sprint will have exclusive rights to the Pixi, Palm said. Pricing for the phone, as well as the limited-edition Palm Pixi Artist Series covers, will be announced closer to availability.

In addition to linking users' information from Google, Facebook and Exchange ActiveSync, the Pixi adds Yahoo and LinkedIn integration to Palm Synergy(TM) and assembles it all in a single view. Users can get their Yahoo contacts, calendar and IM, and access to LinkedIn contacts, including job titles. Palm said Synergy on Pixi improves and simplifies messaging by showing all conversations with the same person in one chat-style thread, so users can start a conversation on AIM Instant Messenger, Google Talk or Yahoo Messenger and continue it by text message later.

Complementing the phone's Facebook integration with contacts, phone, calendar and photo applications, an updated Facebook application will be available with the Pixi so users can see and comment on the latest news from friends, as well as easily perform status updates. The phone sports a full QWERTY keyboard and multi-touch screen, which lets users move back and forth between open applications using natural gestures. The removable back cover is rubberized, making it scratch-resistant and slip-resistant.

"With Palm webOS, we're creating a new, more intuitive smartphone experience defined by unmatched simplicity and usefulness," said Palm chairman and CEO Jon Rubinstein. "Palm Pixi brings this unique experience to a broader range of people who want enhanced messaging and social networking in a design that lets them express their personal style."

The Pixi will also be available as part of an artist series featuring numbered, limited-edition back covers by Jeremy Fish, Michelle White and others. Users can also tailor Palm Pixi to their interests with downloadable applications from the Palm Beta App Catalog, including entertainment and social networking applications such as Local Concerts by iLike, and Yelp. Pixi owners can use Palm media sync to customize the phone with music, photos and videos from iTunes (Versions 8.1.1-8.2.1), or use the on-device Amazon MP3 store to purchase individual songs or full albums over-the-air.

"Palm Pixi continues Sprint's leadership in providing useful and innovative devices on America's most dependable 3G network," said Sprint CEO Dan Hesse. "We are pleased to be the first carrier to bring this device to market and offer both devices in the growing Palm webOS family. Sprint's Everything Data plans, which provide unrestricted access to the Internet, mobile content and applications, and our Ready Now retail experience make for a perfect combination with these new Palm products."