Palm taking heat for inflated claims about new device

MILPITAS, CA: Palm's admission that one of its handheld devices isn't all it promised to be has put the company in the middle of a PR headache.

MILPITAS, CA: Palm's admission that one of its handheld devices isn't all it promised to be has put the company in the middle of a PR headache.

Palm introduced the m130 in March, which was advertised as offering 65,536 colors. As it turns out, the organizer offers about 11% fewer colors.

As gossip has swirled about the mistake on hi-tech web sites, Palm responded to a recent query from Wired News about the error. Palm validated the claims, admitted its mistake, and issued an apology.

"We hope by putting on our website information about this, and issuing an apology, that this will do a great deal to maintain customer trust and loyalty, said Palm VP of corporate communications Marlene Somsak.

"We made an honest mistake, and we're admitting it."

Palm is also notifying customer support and retailers, and changing its advertising and packaging. But that may not be enough to sooth the media and PDA users.

Wired News accused Palm of misleading customers, and blasted the company for not initially posting an apology on its website. The article also quoted Gartner Dataquest analyst Todd Kort as saying Palm risks alienating its base and creating a big PR problem if it does not go beyond an apology, such as reimbursing customers. Kort told Wired News it was false advertising, whether or not it was intentional.

In The Wall Street Journal, columnist Walter Mossberg called the situation "amazing and embarrassing, adding, "it raises serious questions about Palm's quality controls and its credibility."

And the San Jose Mercury News called Palm's admission "humiliating, and wondered why a company "as troubled as Palm would do so little to appease outraged users."

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