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Talkin' Treo - v090707

Fri Sep 7, 2007 - 11:01 AM EDT - By Annie Latham

Week ending 7 September 2007

What a difference a week makes! If you recall, last week in this column, I wrote, �Hopefully, Palm will be ready to hit the ground running after Labor Day.� And on Tuesday, to many people�s surprise, they grounded the Foleo.

The reaction is noted below. But the classic cartoon of Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown is what popped into my mind.

One company that DID hit the ground running, was Apple with a series of iPod/iPhone announcements that were made by Steve Jobs on Wednesday at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The price cut on the iPhone was �bigger and came sooner than I imagined,� stated Ryan Kim of the San Francisco Chronicle. I imagine those who lined up and paid premium prices for it are kind of feeling like Charlie Brown � flat on his back after the football was pulled away (I never understood why he kept trusting that Lucy would actually hold that football in place).

Anyway, I guess if there�s one takeaway from the week, it�s that the playing field is not level by any stretch of the imagination. Change is constant and Palm is going to be especially challenged to update the Treo in a way that makes it competitive with product offerings from Apple, Nokia, HP (this week they jumped back in the fray), RIM and a host of others.

And speaking about the Treo (after all, that IS what I do in this column), for a holiday-shortened week, there was still plenty going on. So without further ado, Let�s Talk Treo!

Palm News

Besides the big, BIG (!!) announcement Palm made via their Blog, the only other official news from the company was about when the Q1FY08 earnings call is taking place.

For those who like to plan ahead, it is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 1, shortly after 4 p.m. Eastern (1 p.m. Pacific), followed by a conference call for the public at 4:30 p.m. Eastern (1:30 p.m. Pacific).

Also, by way of a SEC filing, there has been a reshuffling of Palm�s board of directors.

Bruce Dunlevie, a venture capitalist with Benchmark Capital, is resigning from the company's board of directors. Scott Mercer has decided to remain on the board. Mercer and director Eric Benhamou had planned to resign from the board to make room for Fred Anderson and Roger McNamee of Elevation Partners, an investment firm that took a stake in Palm earlier this year. The company said the departures of Dunlevie and Benhamou will enable the addition of the Elevation members when the deal closes.

Talkin� Fold-eo

�I have decided to cancel the Foleo mobile companion product in its current configuration and focus all of our energies on delivering out next generation platform and the first smartphones that will bring this platform to market. We will, of course, continue to develop products in partnership with Microsoft on the Windows Mobile platform, but from our internal platform development perspective, we will focus on only one.�

Thus spoke Ed Colligan, Palm�s president and CEO, in a message that appeared on Palm�s blog on Tuesday at 2:01pm.

Palm is taking a charge of less than $10 million for not releasing the product.

The news traveled fast. I first saw it on a CNET report. TreoCentral posted a story fairly quickly.

There was quite a bit of reaction in and around the world of Treo:

More from CNET

Tom Krazit noted, �Suddenly, it seems even more fitting that a company called Elevation Partners recently took a stake in Palm.� He wrote:

�This might be rock bottom for the storied mobile-computing company. The decision to cancel the Foleo even before letting people get their hands on it is an embarrassing admission that Palm's vision of the computing world is way off base from the rest of the world, and it's a black mark on the otherwise stellar career of Palm founder Jeff Hawkins.�
�While it's embarrassing, Colligan made the right decision. You've got to know when to fold them, and the Foleo wasn't going to beat anything better than a pair of sixes. You're supposed to have an intervention after the downtrodden hits rock bottom, but Colligan's moment of clarity could still allow Palm to recapture some of its past glory��

Mobile Opportunity weighs in:

Michael Mace wrote:

�To me, the most surprising part of the announcement was Palm's explanation that it couldn't afford to create two different software platforms�
�� To translate that from Silicon Valley speak, Palm was building two substantially different versions of Linux, one for future Treos and one for the Foleo. That was a huge surprise to me -- I had assumed the company was doing a single version of Linux for both product lines. The overhead cost associated with maintaining multiple platforms is enormous. Even huge companies struggle with it, so in my opinion there's no way in the universe that Palm was going to be able to afford it.�


Zack Urlocker stated:

�I need a $500 underpowered Linux Laptop like I need a� a Palm Foleo? �While the idea of a fast-booting Palm Foleo laptop as a �mobile phone companion� might have sounded like a good idea to the guys who dreamed it up, this struck me as one of the most off-target devices I've ever heard of. I mean, this thing wasn't even exciting on paper. You had to wonder what they were thinking. Meanwhile my Palm Treo is feeling older and clunkier than just about any mobile device on the market. I feel like I've got a 10 year old Star-Tac on my belt.�


Andrew said:

�This is exactly the sort of strong, brave and pragmatic decision that Treonauts have been clamoring to see from Palm � one which would appear to hint that the company is finally listening more closely to the feedback of its customer base and responding decisively when issues emerge even if this means taking the painful decision to cancel a new product just weeks before its launch. I can only congratulate Ed Colligan for this tough move.�

Motley Fool�s Harsh Take

Tim Beyers wrote an open letter to Ed Colligan that was brutally honest. Extracting clips from it won�t do it justice, so I suggest you click over there and give it a read.

With all the announcements from Nokia from last week, and HP�s move to �retake the lead in providing handhelds to business customers� that was announced this week combined with Apple�s new iPod/iPhone products, it makes sense for Palm to take a �time out� to regroup and refocus. � AL

Okay, now without further ado, let�s get back to Talkin� Treo!

Recent TreoCentral Guides, Reviews & More

Review: BlueAnt Z9 Bluetooth Headset - By Jay Gross

As promised, here�s TreoCentral�s look at BlueAnt�s snazzy new Bluetooth headset, the Z9. Jay marveled at how something this light (weighing only a third of an ounce), could have two microphones, impressive noise cancellation specifications and tons of features. He wrote:

�With fabulous noise cancellation, and a raft of nice features, BlueAnt�s Z9 Bluetooth Headset delivers loud and clear. It�s tiny and light, and holds enough of a charge to talk almost all day. For the sound quality the Z9 puts out, I�ll put up with its Martian user interface, but I won�t carry the Quick Start Guide around. I�ll just answer and disconnect from the Treo screen and not bother with the extensive extra features that entail a codebook to operate.�

Review/Clue: Fuel Cell Charger - By Harv Laser

Harv took a look at a new emergency / totally portable charging solution by Medis Technologies Ltd. The "24-7 Power Pack Fuel Cell" which works differently than a standard battery. He noted, �Unlike a battery, which stores electricity, a fuel cell is an electrochemical device that actually creates or produces energy (electricity) through a chemical reaction of some material that eventually depletes itself and has to be replenished.� He explained how fuel cells work and pondered whether it was worthwhile.

The Medis 24-7 Fuel Cell Power Pack is a novel new device with cutting-edge technology that offers yet another way to use and charge your Treo, should your battery conk out. The upside is the price is not outrageous, it's compact, and it works as it claims to work. The downside is that if you store it unactivated, it only has a shelf-life of about a year. Of course, since I just got the thing and only one of them, I had no way to verify that. Once activated, it's good for about three months of use, or until however much energy its voltage-generating chemicals inside can produce before it's depleted.�

Clue: Treo Software Roundup - By Jennifer Chappell

It was quiet leading into and out of the Labor Day holiday. Still, Jennifer found more than a dozen programs to talk about (equally split between Palm OS and Windows Mobile): 4cast, Kinoma�s new media guide, Investment Options, GPS Skinner, Mortgage Calc, Northglide Cloner, Opera Mini 4 beta 2, Pocket Launcher, Resco BrainGain, Trip Boss, VibOff and WebCamera Plus.

Talkin� TreoCast

In this episode, along with the usual news and reviews, the hosts discuss the Engadget open letter to Palm, the new Centro leaked image, and take a peek at what "industry analysts" are saying. Plus, they answer some listener mail, and hit up the forums.

Elsewhere in the World of Treo�

Review: Power Hero

Andrew at Treonauts tried out a new Treo software solution, aptly called Power Hero, that helped him take the enhanced battery performance he was achieving with his new Seidio 1600mAh Extended Battery even further. Power Hero provides a simple and easy to use console that lets the user instantly see the status and control any one of the six main power-draining functions on the Treo.

�Overall I found Power Hero to be brilliantly simple � so much so in fact that one has to wonder why it had not been released sooner. In less than five minutes I was able to completely refine all the power-draining functions on my smartphone and so make sure that I am able to always extend the performance of my Treo battery to the max. Very highly recommended.�

Note: Late last week, he wrote about the Seidio 1600mAh Extended Battery.

Review(s): Aliph Jawbone Bluetooth Headset

Mobility Today did a review of the Aliph Jawbone Bluetooth headset:

�This is a great headset. I would have to say that it is the best Bluetooth headset I have used to date and if I were in the market for a new headset this would be it. As I mentioned in the review it is very light and comfortable as well as stylish. For someone who spends a lot of time outdoors or in a car this is the headset for you. I do, however, recommend that you get the black or gray version of this unit unless you absolutely love red!�

This week, also posted a review of it.

�If you talk on a headset then the Jawbone is a must-have. It�s a bit pricier than most headsets out there (MSRP US$120), but it will pay for itself instantly when all of your calls are crystal clear. I entered into the evaluation period thinking I would hate this headset, but after trying it out and hearing the difference, I have to recommend it to everyone. As a result, I�m awarding it a Pick.�

Note: This was reviewed by TreoCentral�s Harv Laser in July.

Review: Motorola H700 Bluetooth Headset

A reviewer at WMExperts who goes by the handle �HobbesIsReal,� has taken a look at the Motorola H700 Bluetooth headset:

�The Motorola H700 seems to deliver or exceed my expectations for a bluetooth headset. It is sleek looking while remaining extremely comfortable to wear. The sound quality is what can be expected from a BT headset. It is extremely lightweight and feels like a solid build. Once you know how to manually initiate pairing mode, it is really easy to pair with either a BT enabled normal cell phone or a smartphone. The bottom line is that I would personally recommend the Motorola H700 to anyone looking for a BT headset.

Review: SplashID

Mike at Digital Lifestyles has written a review of SplashData�s Splash ID Version 4, a program that lets you input, �organize and categorize a wealth of personal data like user names, passwords, credit cards, and PIN numbers into your mobile phone and desktop PC, and keep the whole lot safe from prying eyes behind a 256-bit Blowfish encrypted password.� He wrote:

�Thanks to SplashID�s cross-platform capabilities, your data is pretty much future proofed - even if you keep changing mobile phone OS�s - and with the latest version priced at just $30, we think it�s an invaluable security investment for mobile users.

News: Sennheiser Introduces FLX70

This week, Sennheiser Communications introduced the FLX 70 wireless mobile headset. As with all other Sennheiser headset models, the headset is built on advanced sound technology that enhances mobile communications.

FlexFit is their name for a turnable speaker that can be adjusted for optimal fit to your ear canal, an optional ear-hook for robust over the ear wearing, a choice of left or right side wearing, three sizes of speaker silicone covers for more personalized fitting, a unique semi-open acoustic system to keep your ears from feeling plugged and a lan-yard with a hook for convenient accessibility.

The new FLX 70 will be available in retail stores from November 2007.

Clue: iPhone look alike on Treo 680

Apparently, there�s a �Phony launcher� for the Treo that looks �pretty close to the user interface on the iPhone.�

Clue: How to Hard Reset Palm's Windows Mobile Treos

PDA Street has posted some helpful hints for those with Windows Mobile Treos.

Clue: Get an International Phone Number has written about TalkPlus, a versatile business tool designed for the executive on the go.

�TalkPlus is a very powerful business tool that gives you great geographical freedom. If you have customers, friends or family in various area and country codes, this service is for you. While it's new and the Palm OS Treo application is only in beta, the company came across to me as highly committed to the Treo community and intent on providing outstanding service and application updates.�

Clue: Palm Blog Talks Moblogging

Paul Loeffler did a roundup of moblogging solutions that are available on Treo smartphones that included: SixApart, Blogger, WordPress, Flickr and Twitter.

Clue: Dumping Your Cell Phone Contract

A few weeks ago, I mentioned in my column. This week, The Wall Street Journal�s �Cranky Consumer� (subscription required) did a story on trying to unload a cell phone contract. It seems that incentives (i.e. throwing in accessories or cash) helped drum up interest. This story included a comparison table showing different options: vs. vs. Craigslist vs. The Freecycle Network.

News: Wireless Providers Seek Profits Inside Homes

Another article from The Wall Street Journal (�Mobile-Phone Operators Now Seek Profits Inside Homes�) discussed how wireless providers in Europe are testing �femtocell technology,� which is basically a tiny indoor version of large phone towers capable of linking up national mobile networks via a user�s broadband Internet connection. This is a technology worth watching because in the States, it makes sense for companies to adopt it to make it easier to use a cell phone from within buildings (where coverage is often lousy).

News: Brighthand�s Top Smartphones for August

Each month, Brighthand publishes a list of the most popular handhelds and smartphones based on the number of views each product page receives. The top few devices remained essentially unchanged for several months, but in August, the Palm Centro made a strong showing in its first month on the list (at #4) followed by the Treo 755p.

News: StyleTap Taps Palm Apps into Rugged Windows Mobiles with Scanners

James Alan Miller at PDA Street wrote a story this week about how StyleTap, a solution to allow Windows Mobile PDAs and smartphones to run almost any Palm OS application, has now been upgraded to support barcode scanners integrated into many of the Windows Mobile-run rugged handhelds sold by Intermec and Symbol.

�With StyleTap support for barcode scanners, companies don't have to worry about losing their investment in specialized software when ditching out-of-date Palm OS handhelds for something newer, according to StyleTap CEO Gregory Sokoloff.�

News: New TomTom GPS Listens When You TalkTalk

Katherine Noyes, in this TechNewsWorld story, wrote about TomTom's new high-end product, the TomTom GO 920 T, that features the addition of voice recognition. The device includes the company's new enhanced positioning technology, which uses movement and gravity sensors to calculate drivers' positions when GPS signals are not available because there is no direct line-of-sight connection to a satellite.

News: Office Depot Mobile Inititative

Here�s a story from last week. Office Depot has partnered with go2, a leading mobile media company, for the company's first national mobile marketing program. Office Depot will now offer customers on-the-go services that enable them to locate the nearest Office Depot store and receive information regarding new products and services directly on their mobile device.

Talkin� iPhone

No doubt, Apple stole a lot of mindshare this week � something that those in the world of Treo couldn�t ignore.

I saw this in a story that appeared at Gizmodo. Harsh, man!

Needless to say, the Apple faithful were a wee bit perturbed about the iPhone price cut and let the company have it. By Thursday afternoon, Steve Jobs did something to try to quell the anger and backlash they were facing from the early adopters of the iPhone. On Apple�s Website, an open letter from Jobs appeared. He wrote:

�I have received hundreds of emails from iPhone customers who are upset about Apple dropping the price of iPhone by $200 two months after it went on sale. After reading every one of these emails, I have some observations and conclusions�
�Therefore, we have decided to offer every iPhone customer who purchased an iPhone from either Apple or AT&T, and who is not receiving a rebate or any other consideration, a $100 store credit towards the purchase of any product at an Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store. Details are still being worked out and will be posted on Apple's website next week. Stay tuned. We want to do the right thing for our valued iPhone customers. We apologize for disappointing some of you, and we are doing our best to live up to your high expectations of Apple.�

Humm� Let�s see how well the store credit goes over.

Endnotes & Ponderables:

Are you ready for some football? Check this out!

According to this story that I saw at Slashphone, last weekend at the season opener, University of Texas students and fans with Bluetooth enabled phones at Darrell K Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium received free Longhorn mobile content and a chance to win 2007 post-season bowl game tickets. Apparently this is a promotion is taking place wherever the Longhorns play at home. And it is all done via Bluetooth wireless technology. Five Bluetooth enabled kiosks located throughout the stadium are pushing out UT images and information to fans with Bluetooth enabled mobile phones.

While this is an interesting concept, if you�ve seen the crowds at college games, the last thing you want to do is bring your expensive Treo or other cell phone to a game where it can get dropped, jostled, bumped, bounced, kicked or just plain ol� lost.

However, I can see this playing well for major league baseball games, where the crowds are less rowdy.

That�s a wrap!

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