Dell's Axim folds, but company may be eyeing Palm purchase

'The PDA is dead. Long live the smart phone,' says analyst Jack Gold

Dell Inc. has stopped selling its Axim handheld computer line and will not discuss rumors that it may be gearing up to introduce a smart phone product by buying Palm Inc., a spokeswoman said today.

Officially, Dell pulled the Axim X51 products off its Web site and stopped selling them April 5, after first launching the Axim Pocket PC in 2002, said spokeswoman Jennifer Allison. Dell still shows the Axim product line on its Web site, although Allison said only add-on products are for sale.

She said there are no plans for a smart phone, although Dell is still selling Global Positioning System devices and smart phones from other makers.

The decision by Dell to discontinue the Axim line is a good example of the demise of the personal digital assistant, or PDA, said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates in Northboro, Mass.

"The PDA is dead. Long live the smart phone," Gold said in an interview.

Gold said that the Axim decision has been predicted for some time and that Dell is likely to introduce a smart phone later this year. And, he said, Dell might purchase Palm Inc. to make it happen.

Palm itself sells PDAs, but they are a minority of Palm's sales, Gold said. Hewlett-Packard Co.'s iPaq has become a smart phone as well, he noted.

"Dell has the money to buy Palm, and it's clear now that Motorola is not buying Palm," Gold said. Dell could build a smart phone or buy an established player. Palm already has a line of four smart phones that are built on both the Windows Mobile and Palm operating systems.

Dell's Allison said she could not discuss a possible purchase of Palm.

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