As we covered last week, Dell has just launched their Axim X3i with Bluetooth in Europe. Sony is about to launch the TH55 there as well with WiFi and Bluetooth. Neither have any intention of bringing these devices to the US any time soon. Sony. Dell. Listen to me please. Bring Bluetooth to the US!
Dell came so close to releasing the X3i in the US with Bluetooth, the logo is imprinted on the current X3i antennas. At the last minute, they decided to pull the functionality because their focus groups indicated Bluetooth wasn t that important. Sony released the wildly popular TH55 just a week ago in the US with a WiFi only version. The odd thing is that Sony has released Bluetooth devices in the US before, but none have been very successful. palmOne has a good story to tell though. They ve been selling integrated Bluetooth for almost a year and a half. The Tungsten line has been a fantastic seller for them. HP has also sold a few hundred thousand PDAs with integrated Bluetooth. While I can t be sure how many people actually use the Bluetooth option, at least it s there for those who want it.
So what s the problem? Obviously Europe has more Bluetooth penetration than the US. In fact, it s not even close. Most consumers in the US don t even know what Bluetooth is; forget about trying to figure out what to use it for. However, PDA owners are a little more advanced than the typical consumer. We understand the value of Bluetooth; it s even quite the necessity for many people that aren t tethered to a desk all day.
Mobile phone operators are finally starting to offer Bluetooth phones in the US. Before this recent move, if you wanted Bluetooth in a phone, there were few options short of importing or buying via eBay. Even the models Sprint PCS and others sell are two generations old, but at least progress is being made.
We know that Bluetooth radios are cheap, they don t take much space and they re not hard to integrate. So why aren t they in more PDAs? It s all about numbers. There are invisible price barriers that PDA Manufacturers feel like they need to hit for marketing purposes. The Clie TH55 came out at $399. If Sony were to add a $5 Bluetooth radio, they wouldn t be able to price the TH55 at $404. So that would mean they would take a $5 hit on every unit sold, essentially absorbing the cost. Dell s pricing scheme is a little different, but similar rules apply. They didn t think charging another few bucks for Bluetooth would be worth the increased cost of the unit.
My perfect PDA isn t available in the US. It s a TH55 with Bluetooth, available overseas only. Is it really that hard to charge a little more and sell the unit on your web site Sony? I can t think this is the case, especially when the same PDA can be released in multiple colors like the SJ33. Somehow Sony was able to accommodate that product online, some of which were internet only options. So stock a few thousand TH55B s in the US for those of use willing to pay a premium for them.
Well, this situation isn t going to change until users demand integrated Bluetooth. I refuse to buy a PDA for personal use that does not have integrated Bluetooth. Is anyone else with me?