A Duet for the Treo

By Brian P. Watson  |  Posted 2006-05-15 Print this article Print

New smart phone brings Palm OS-based devices up to speed with vendor's Microsoft-powered units.

Palm unveiled Monday its newest smart phone, the Treo 700p, giving customers the first upgrade to the Palm Operating System-based mobile device since the October 2004 debut of the Treo 650.

The device, which is almost an exact physical replica of the Palm 700w--a Microsoft Windows Mobile-powered version of the Treo released earlier this year--connects to high-speed evolution-data optimized (EV-DO) networks from Sprint and Verizon.

Before details of the 700p began leaking in the past few weeks, some industry analysts and Palm customers told Baseline that by releasing the Microsoft-enabled device earlier this year--and widening its potential customer base to companies with Windows-based systems--the Sunnyvale, Calif., company was de-emphasizing its own operating system. Palm's plan, they said, is to align with Microsoft in a larger battle with the long-standing industry leader, Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry.

Tara Griffin, Palm's vice president of enterprise markets, last week countered the belief, which she called "intriguing," saying Palm was continuing on a dual-platform strategy.

"I don't think we're trying to guide customers either way," Griffin said. "We want to be the open platform, so that you can use what you need."

Kevin Burden, mobile device program manager with research firm IDC, says the upgrade was a necessary move. "This is a totally expected move on Palm's part," he says. "They essentially needed to get the 650 up to the same class as the 700w," which also offers the high-speed network.

Other upgrades in the 700p include a higher-resolution screen and the ability to use the device as a wireless modem for a laptop. The new Treo also comes with 128 megabytes of memory, four times the 32 megabytes found in the Treo 650, the last Palm-powered model.

Sprint and Verizon will announce pricing plans in the near future, according to Griffin, though she didn't give a specific time frame.

Palm plans to unveil two more smart phones this year, though Griffin wouldn't discuss any details about platforms or features.

Palm customer Jim Adams, program manager of sales technology applications at Medtronic's cardiac rhythm disease management division, says new hires on his mobile sales force will be given the Treo 700p because of, among other things, the faster EV-DO network.

As Adams puts it: "We would be inclined to go to the latest and greatest device that Palm has."

Associate Editor

Brian joined Baseline in March 2006. In addition to previous stints at Inter@ctive Week and The Net Economy, he's written for The News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla., as well as The Sunday Tribune in Dublin, Ireland. Brian has a B.A. from Bucknell University and a master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.


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