Palm Goes Pro

Posted by: Cliff Edwards on August 20, 2008

Ever heard of a little handheld company called Palm?
The company that helped popularize smartphones with the executive set even before the word smartphone was born is trying to get back in the game with its new Treo Pro device. The first major design revamp of their business-class devices in a couple of years, the Treo Pro comes with Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 software to make it fairly easy for companies to connect their workers to the mother ship.
Though a little company in Cupertino not too far from Palm seems to be getting all the buzz these days with the iPhone, Palm execs say the Treo Pro won’t really compete with Apple because it’s aimed a business people who still want built-in QWERTY keyboards to do their messaging.
Not surprisingly, then, Research in Motion’s Blackberry Bold is squarely in their sights.
Trouble is, Palm’s high-end, $549 GSM device isn’t getting a lot of love, at least initially, from AT&T and T-Mobile in the United States. The company plans to sell it beginning this fall only from its own website and kiosks around the country.
It could simply be that Palm didn’t have enough time to get fully certified for AT&T’s network. Or, more dire, there might be no room on the shelf, with AT&T offering competing products from Apple, RIM, Samsung and others for the important upcoming holiday period.
A Palm exec was quick to note that the Treo Pro is getting widespread support in Europe, where carriers plan to subsidize the device to lock in customers to new contracts.
Palm could use all the help it can get. Its market share has dwindled despite the relative popularity of the consumer-friendly Centro with younger cell phone purchasers.
The company, under relatively new management, promises big things to come in the next year. Here’s hoping it can deliver before the competition steals enough application developers to make moot all the shiny new devices it excels at creating.

Reader Comments

Mark

August 21, 2008 8:27 AM

If it does not have a full sized screen and a good onscreen keyboard, I won't buy it.

me like

August 21, 2008 11:47 AM

Don't the media pundits get it? These are the same guys that knocked the macbook air. the Treo Pro is EXACTLY what I wanted because it is UNLOCKED! UNLOCKED ... I'm free!! I'll buy this phone simply because I hate HATE my carrier's vise-like grip on my wallet. Take that, feeble pundit, this thing will bring Palm back from the dead.

GD38

August 21, 2008 12:48 PM

So the question is: Is Palm to handhelds what Vonage is VoIP?

Tim

August 21, 2008 2:34 PM

No, I think the real question is this: How long will it take to get to the magic $199 and $299 price-points?

Apple does get that, at least...

Nick

August 21, 2008 3:41 PM

A $199/$299 price tag does take in to consideration that you are locked in to a service for 2 years, so if you are ok with that... I hope that you don't pick the wrong provider the next time that you sign a contract...

J.P.

August 21, 2008 4:02 PM

I WANT THE PALM PRO FOR SPRINT!
RELEASE IT TO SPRINT!
WHY RELEASE IT ON AT&T? WHEN THEY HAVE THE IPHONE YA DEF. NOT GON SELL OVER THERE.
WHY RELEASE IT ON T-MOBILE? WHEN THEIR SIDEKICK IS THE ONLY PHONE SELLING OVER THERE
RELEASE IT ON SPRINT!

Lori

August 21, 2008 4:03 PM

Sadly this Palm Pro is only windows based, doesn't help us Mac users.

Brad

August 21, 2008 5:00 PM

I had to move from a Treo 650 to a Blackberry. In every way the Treo was easier to use. It's like comparing a PC to a Mac. Treo beats Backberry in every way but price.

Shin.B

August 21, 2008 5:11 PM

I cosign the sprint comment.

1. Release this on networks with good 3g coverage like Sprint and Verizon. GSM 3g is spotty imo.. (AT&T is not bad).

2. Like the centro/800w body style. But wheres the larger screen? Has same size as 800w.

3. This is basically a 800w with faster processor and higher capacity battery. Keyboard is straight instead of curved like 800w.

Palm needs to come with something a little better to compete these days. Unless the price point is very competitive, I dont see this doing much in the USA.

G

August 21, 2008 6:48 PM

The Palm Treo is Windows based? What's the point? The reason the Treo was easy to use before was because it was NOT Windows based. Windows Mobile is a clunky OS. Palm was clean and simple. They simply lost their innovation and haven't been able to come up with a decent design in years. Palm is in a death spiral.

Cleave Frink

August 21, 2008 9:00 PM

In the past, new Treo phones have been released unlocked after about a year. This is good because it gives them time to get the bugs out. I'd like to get an iPhone but I really love my Treo. The only problem it has is it's lack of "seamless" syncing with my mac. I agree Windows is more of a Con than a Pro but I'm sure there are lots of companies that will enjoy that feature.

JW

August 21, 2008 9:08 PM

If by "It's like comparing a PC to a Mac" you mean the PC is superior to the Mac then excellent comparison.

KM

August 22, 2008 4:45 AM

THat's a GSM/UMTS device, threby it won't work on Sprint on Verizon networks, sorry.
Mark: those buying the Treos buy them because they have a real keyboard - I prefer it to a larger screen, onscreen keyboard are slow to use and difficult to use with one hand only - and they aren't available until you activate them (Treos can search contact as soon as you start typing...)
Windows Mobile is ok for those like me needing a deep integration with the company network, and remotely managing devices.
The price? Is OK for an unlocked device in this calss. Un unlocked iPhone costs more or less the same. And remember, noone gives away phones for free, operators like to lure users into expensive contracts using phones as decoys :) the TCO can be higher - I prefer to choose my plan and my phone separately, and my company is moving in the same direction, tired to change devices to change plan, especially when user leave a lot of company info on them.

Fritz

August 22, 2008 10:51 AM

UNLOCKED! Wahoo!

Yeah the price is pretty high. Palm needs to go back to polishing it's own OS. I won't buy anything with the Windows OS on it. Too many problems over the years with their software have used up ALOT of my time.

Am currently very happy with my PalmTX except for random restarts. Not sure if it is the OS or some additional software I've installed along the way. However it has been otherwise rock solid. I can live with that.

At work I carry a Nokia N810 and I truely love that device. I'm a Linux guy through and through. The Nokia N810 can go out on the web via bluetooth through a plain jane cellphone. Don't need that feature but I use the Wi-Fi all the time.

I'd like to see more device makers do what Palm has done and release their devices unlocked. Work together to make it easier to trade information between different manufacturers - like the ability to bluetooth contact lists, calendar lists, and so on back and forth. Currently my Palm can bluetooth most anything to my wife's Zire72 but the Nokia doesn't accept alot of Palm's bluetooth'd documents. Hopefully the Nokia community or Nokia corporate will fix that b/c I'd really like to have the same information in both devices.

As the TX ages I'm using it more as a media player and the Nokia more as a laptop. Fortunately I seldom need to carry them at the same time. That would be a handful.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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