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New Palm model: Simply Schiffer

For all the hype the tech world generates, there are few truly revolutionary products. But someone has suddenly come very close: Get ready for the Palm Vx Claudia Schiffer Edition.

3 min read
For all the hype the technology world generates, there are few truly revolutionary products anymore. But someone came very close today: Get ready for the first handheld computer named for a supermodel.

Palm and Claudia Schiffer today launched the Palm Vx Claudia Schiffer Edition. The handheld computer resembles a typical Palm V but sports a blue brushed-metal case instead of the regular silver color.

Starting this fall, Schiffer will sell the device exclusively through her Web site. The model and aspiring actress is "personally selecting her favorite add-on software applications to include on a CD that customers can use to install the programs," Palm said in a statement.

The alliance is part of Palm's growing effort to expand its consumer base from its origins among tech nerds. That group will soon be saturated with Palms and similar devices; Palm already has shipped 6 million devices.

"Our goal is to become as essential in pop culture as we are in tech culture," Satjiv Chahil, chief marketing officer at Palm, said in a statement today. "We are delighted that as an avid Palm user, the multitalented Claudia Schiffer recognizes the opportunity to market an elegant, powerful and simple-to-use technology to the fashion-conscious public."

The launch of the Schiffer Palm Vx is part of Palm's upcoming fall product line, which is expected to include a revamped Palm VII and the new M100, a redesigned Palm IIIe.

Palm did not release the price tag for the Schiffer Palm Vx or the financial details of its partnership with Schiffer, who recently broke off her engagement to magician David Copperfield.

"Palm is a company I admire for its devotion to making sophisticated technology simple and accessible to everyone," the former Guess jeans model said in a statement.

As amusing as it may be, the launch of the special supermodel edition is not without some precedent. These deals are intended to broaden a technology product's audience from early adopters and gadget freaks.

S3, which makes the Diamond Rio portable digital music player, recently announced a partnership with Nike to develop specially designed devices aimed at athletes and sold by the athletic-gear maker. Despite Diamond's marketing efforts targeting athletes and hyping the device's exercise-friendly features, the company recognized that Nike will always have a stronger appeal to sports-minded buyers.

For Palm, Schiffer has a widely recognized name among fashion-conscious women who may not otherwise consider themselves in the market for a handheld computer.

The device maker has always stressed its commitment to simplifying technology to attract a mass audience. Palm has promoted its "Zen of Palm" philosophy for years, a motto that reflects the company's emphasis on clean interfaces and easy-to-use technology.

But Palm has also not always put a priority on appealing to women, despite a revolving cast of female chief executives, including founder Donna Dubinsky, 3Com executive Janice Roberts and Robin Abrams, who left to launch e-commerce start-up Chemdex just months after joining Palm.

During Roberts' tenure, Palm drew fire from some quarters for its "Simply Palm" advertising campaign, which featured nude women and was satirized as "Simply Porn."

Palm is not alone in looking to expand from its traditional market. Handspring, whose Visor is based on the Palm operating system, is targeted at women and families.