|Fri Oct 5, 2007 - 10:44 AM EDT - By Annie Latham|
It�s weird. The CTIA IT and Entertainment show is coming up in San Francisco in a couple of weeks (Oct. 23-25) and it seems like lots of companies were trying to get a jump on generating some excitement. AT&T announced the �Tilt�, a Windows Mobile phone designed by HTC with full BlackBerry e-mail support�as well as a 3-megapixel camera, GPS and global high-speed networking. Verizon Wireless announced a family of products, including one �that looks a lot like the hottest phone so far this year: Apple Inc.'s iPhone,� according to AP Technology Writer, Peter Svensson. Verizon�s new phones are expected to be available by Thanksgiving.
Ah ha! Maybe it�s the holidays that has got folks gearing up. After all, this week Sears announced the return of the Wish Book, after a 14-year absence.
Speaking of new products, the timing of Palm�s Centro announcement was perfect. It gave the stock a little pop -- with shares rising 97 cents to $16.40 last Thursday -- before Monday�s earnings report. By Tuesday, Palm shares shed 63 cents, or 3.9 percent, to $15.34 in midday trading. And as of this column�s deadline, Palm was hanging in there at $15.32. It may take another hit after Research in Motion�s earnings are digested. They doubled their bottom line in its second fiscal quarter thanks to strong sales of its BlackBerry line of smart phones, and issued a forecast for the current quarter that was ahead of analysts' estimates.
There certainly was a lot of news to absorb this week. So without further ado, Let�s Talk Treo!
Palm Reports Q1 FY08 Results
The new month opened with Palm putting out their earnings announcement. They reported that total revenue in the first quarter of fiscal year 2008, ended Aug. 31, was $360.8 million. Smartphone sell-through for the quarter was 689,000 units, up 21 percent year over year. Smartphone revenue was $302.2 million, up 12 percent from the year-ago period.
That was the good news. But the media focused on what they saw was �the real story.�
Marketwatch: �Palm swings to loss as smart-phone sales slow; Weak forecast sends shares falling in after-hours trading�
MSNBC/AP: �Palm posts loss amid stiffer competition; Apple�s iPhone poses competition for company that makes Treo�
Forbes: �Palm Gets Back Of The Hand�
The financial media basically focused on the fact that Palm was struggling to keep up with competitors such as Research in Motion (BlackBerry) and Apple (iPhone). The Forbes article noted �the much-hyped iPhone debuted in June and sold more than 1 million units within the first three months. By comparison, Palm sold 689,000 units in the first quarter, that's a 21% increase from the year ago period, but it still pales in Steve Job's shadow.�
Over at the Motley Fool website, Palm was compared to the Mets:
�The 1996 introduction of the PalmPilot ushered in the PDA (personal digital assistant) era. But while the company's product line has evolved, Palm has never been able to combat the popularity of Research in Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM) BlackBerry.�
�The investing lesson? Don't get cocky. Whether it's Sony with video game consoles, Yahoo! with search, Palm with PDAs, or TiVo with DVRs, moats always seem thicker than they actually are.�But what did Palm say?
TreoCentral�s Jennifer Chappell listened to the webcast that accompanied the earnings release and provided an excellent summary. And Ryan Kairer at PalmInfocenter wrote a story about the remarks made by Palm's CEO Ed Colligan during the investor conference call. He noted:
�Colligan told investors in his opening remarks that the Centro systems team and all Foleo engineers are now totally focused on delivering the next generation platform. He also put a concrete timeframe on its debut, stating they expect it to be �available� by the end of next calendar year.�
Another Open Letter to Palm
Over at PC Magazine, in an Open Letter to Palm, Lance Ulanoff wrote, �Set your software free. Yes, it's time to release the Palm OS into the open-source world and let other people start developing for you. If you don't, your operating system will join DR-DOS and CP/M in the world of defunct platforms.� He continued to spell out specific issues he has with the Palm platform and the company in general.
�I'm not alone in my devotion to and affection for Palm. I assure you that releasing the code will generate a groundswell of fresh ideas and lead to the best Palm OS ever. It will rejuvenate your brand, and, with a world of developers behind you, you can focus on rolling out new and more amazing hardware. You might even start competing with the current front-runner in smartphone cool: RIM BlackBerry.�
Talkin� Mr. Ed
Kris at PalmInfocenter has pointed out that David Berlind, writer for ZDNet.com, has posted a video interview with Palm CEO Ed Colligan to his blog, discussing both Palm�s new Centro smartphone and their cancelled Linux-based Foleo subnotebook.
The new Palm Centro continued to be a hot topic. Here�s a sampling of what was being said this week.
Barrons: �Palm: The Centro Rally Continues; Will It Win New Fans, Or Cannibalize Pricier Models?�
In a post by Eric Savitz, RBC Capital�s Mike Abramsky is quoted:
�Centro may drive incremental revenue for Palm - if it becomes a hit with price-sensitive phone buyers,� he writes. �However, as essentially a mini Treo, Centro may instead cannibalize Palm�s higher priced Treos and PDAs. By comparison, the [BlackBerry] Pearl was differentiated for consumers from [Research In Motion]�s QWERTY BlackBerries through form factor, SureType keyboard, other features.�
Ben Patterson - The Gadget Hound
�The Centro isn't exactly a ground-breaker, and big-thumbed folks are going to be unhappy with the cramped keypad, but then there's that price�$99 with a two-year service agreement, which goes a long way toward sweetening the no-Wi-Fi, no-GPS, no-new-UI pill.�
Mike Wendland�s Blog: �This IS smart: A smartphone for $100�
�Early reviewers worry that the shrunken color screen will strain the eyes and the keyboard, smaller than on the Treo, will be difficult for fat-fingered typists. I have yet to try this new model out but Ed Hardy, who edits a PDA blog called Brighthand, did a YouTube video showing the tiny little keyboard in use. He says in typing five or six words, he got one letter off. We'll have to take his word for it as the video is a bit blurry. But it shows the Centro in action and it looks like a pretty nice hand fit.�
Motley Fool (Oct 1)
The Motley Fool�s Tim Beyers wrote that he thinks �it should really be called Treo Lite.� He noted that the �Centro is strikingly like Foleo, in that it tries to be more than one thing. It's neither a better phone, a la Motorola's RAZR from two years ago, nor a better smartphone, a la the iPhone.�
�That may work in the fantasy world of Saturday Night Live. (It's a floor wax! No, it's a dessert topping!) But it often fails in the real, brutal world of product design. Don't believe me? Ask the folks who've had multiple bouts with the infamous "red ring of death" that plagues the video-game-console-cum-digital-hub known as Xbox 360. We've seen this horror show before, Palm. And it still ends badly.�
Sascha Segan wrote:
�So the Centro is cute, and it has a lot of new software. But overall, the Centro is definitely old wine in a new bottle, much more so than Palm's Europe-only Treo 500v, which was released two weeks ago. The 500v runs a new operating system for Palm�Windows Mobile 6 Standard�with a 2-megapixel camera. Palm hasn't announced any US plans for the Treo 500v.
None of that should matter to people who haven't drunk of the old wine before, Palm says. They're targeting owners of ordinary "feature" phones who haven't shopped for smart phones before because they've found smart devices too expensive, bulky, or complicated. The tried-and-true Palm OS is easy to use, the device is the size of a non-smartphone, and there's that $99 price.�
Eric M. Zeman remarked:
�One major improvement it makes over Treos is that it is noticeably lighter. In fact, it hardly feels like it has any weight to it at all. With its rounded back and light weight, it fits easily in your hand and is comfortable to hold one handed. Holding it with two hands in typing position is another matter.�
He also said:
�The one thing about the Centro is that the whole thing comes off a little bit cheap looking. Palm had to shave off something in order to get it to the $99 price point, and this is obvious when you feel the plastics. They are just a little bit on the Fisher-Price side of things.�
Rob Enderle wrote:
�Early reviewers have felt the phone feels cheaper than the iPhone -- it's what, a quarter of the price? -- and that it is more targeted at women than men, which it evidently is. I think part of this is that early reviewers saw preproduction prototypes, and since this too is a first-generation phone, I'll offer the same advice I gave for the iPhone. if you're interested, wait a few months before buying one --though $100 is sure a much lower risk than $600 was, so the risk of going early is vastly less. Based on early feedback, I think I'd wait for version 2 of this phone, but it is a move in the right direction. For Palm, it may be more of a base hit than a home run.�
Andrew has provided pictures from the Digital Life conference.
�The new large flat navigation keys and 5Way navigation button also contribute to making the Centro more elegant and refined��
�I like the new plastic casing using in the Centro � it�s shiny, very smooth with a lacquered feel and slightly �pearly�. The fact that the battery cover is now a single piece with no release button again adds to that overall solid feel.�
Andrew also has a nice comparison chart that shows how the Centro matches up to the Treo 755p, the Treo 680 and the Treo 650.
Palm Centro Haiku by Ross Rubin
With aging OS
And your keyboard so tiny
Will you seek low price
There were some folks talking about the Treo 500v.
�My overall impressions of the Treo 500v are it's a good smartphone but far from revolutionary, it's very similar in form and function to the Dash with the added benefit of 3G and a much better keyboard for one handed typing.�
Rosemary Haworth wrote:
�The Palm Treo 500v has dependability written all over it. It�s not the slinkiest or prettiest of smartphones, but if you need a rock-solid handset with which to keep in touch � by email, SMS, phone or IM � and that can help you idle away lost hours, the Palm Treo 500v is a well-priced and well-built choice.�
Over at TheUnwired.net, an �Unboxing the Treo 500v� video was just posted by Arne.
Let�s not forget the Treo Mobile Comedy Film Festival!
According to this post at Palm�s blog, �We've received a ton of great 1-minute films and are getting ready to judge the submissions. Comedians Penn & Teller, and Adam Ferrara have signed up to review and judge the films, so we have should have our finalists very soon!� The entry also mentions that MobiTV is currently offering a free 30-day trial �so Treo users can tune in and watch the festival channel and all of the other cool programming they offer at no charge.�
Review: Freedom Mini Keychain GPS Receiver - By Harv Laser
Harv took a look at the Freedom Keychain GPS, which he referred to as �the Tom Thumb of GPS receivers.� Along the way, he provides some interesting facts about GPS.
�Freedom Input's new mini keychain GPS receiver is truly a remarkable piece of technology. They advertise it as the smallest GPS receiver there is, and I have no reason to doubt that. Although the unit is minuscule, its performance is absolutely tremendous. Whether due to its advanced firmware, its antenna, or both, it easily achieved a lock on the requisite number of GPS satellites from a Cold, Warm, or Hot start, faster than any other SiRF Star III receiver I've used.�
Review: Monaco Aluminum Case for Treo 680 - By Jay Gross
Jay gave Monaco�s fitted case made of aircraft aluminum a try:
�With an impeccable overall fit and finish, the two-ounce (60-gram) Monaco Aluminum Case for Treo 680 wraps its treasure in sturdy aluminum for a very fair $29.95. It cushions its charge with a soft lining and leaves everything but the SD Card slot usable without removing the case. It admirably protects everything but the keyboard. As for the screen, the case shields it with a hinged, windowed cover that you can open quickly to use the Treo, which is not likely to fall out of the case, even with the cover open. Despite the detent-free clip system that for my taste leaves the Treo too free to rotate, this is a great case, offering great protection, good usability, and a nice look.�
Review: TimeTrak - By Andre Kibbe
Andre tried out TimeTrak by TrajectoryLabs.com, a program for keeping track of the jobs you are working on and how you are spending your time. He remarked:
�At $9.95, TimeTrak actually compares favorably with other applications in its category. Many of the time trackers I�ve found for the Palm have similar shortcomings at two or three times the price. In closer price range, the similarly named TimeTrak has a clearer interface, with separate time parameters for hours and minutes, but has buggier Excel report generation�and still costs 50% more. For exporting logs to spreadsheets, TimeTrak is more cost-effective solution.�
The focus of this episode is the new Palm Centro and Palm financial news. There is also a �smorgasbord of random yet interesting stuff.� Plus, they answer some listener mail, and hit up the forums.
News: Handango Announces the 2007 Handango Champion Award Winners
Late last week, Handango, a leading retailer of smartphone content, announced the winners of the Handango Champion Awards.
For Palm OS:
For Windows Mobile Pocket PC:
Game Review: Stolen in 60 Seconds
At MyTreo.net, Sion Phillips played a game that required taking the role of a criminal mastermind tasked with organizing your gang to commit various robberies.
�Overall, this is a great game whose awards include the Gold winner of Samsung Game Development Contest 2007. If you like strategy games and want something a bit different to play this is well worth a go. The game will certainly provide you with several hours of head scratching entertainment and the game is a steal at only $11.75.�
News: Astraware Fall Sale
Astraware. announced they are having a �BIG Fall Sale� which offers 25% off a huge selection of games on their website. This sale runs from Oct. 3 � 18. To take advantage of this massive offer visit the Astraware website at http://www.astraware.com.
News: Garmin Mobile� XT: Plug �N Play Maps for Your Phone
This week, Garmin International Inc., a unit of Garmin Ltd. (Nasdaq: GRMN), announced Garmin Mobile XT, a unique, all-in-one software solution that turns select smartphones with internal GPS into high-end Garmin navigators. This mobile phone software application seamlessly pairs the phone�s built-in GPS with Garmin�s software so that customers have the benefits of navigation anywhere in North America or Europe. Unlike other mobile phone applications, Garmin Mobile XT offers convenient preloaded maps and includes access to dynamic content like premium real-time traffic alerts and fuel prices, but does not require any monthly fees or subscriptions of any kind.
Note: Because there is not a built-in GPS for the Treo, a GPS receiver is required. The significance of this announcement is the move Garmin is making to try to get more market share for their navigation solutions. That is important based on this next story.
News: Nokia to acquire NAVTEQ
Nokia and NAVTEQ announced a definitive agreement for Nokia to acquire digital map supplier NAVTEQ. Under the terms of the agreement, Nokia will pay $78 in cash for each share of NAVTEQ including outstanding options for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $8.1 billion (�5.7 billion), or approximately $7.7 billion (�5.4 billion) net of NAVTEQ existing cash balance. This could make the world's largest cellphone manufacturer a leading player in the navigation business, one of the technology industry's fastest-growing segments.
News: Nokia Adds New Content Partners
Nokia continued to be on a tear (as noted in previous columns). They just announced new partnerships with world-leading content brands to bring a huge range of high-quality mobile videos into the hands of compatible Nokia N-series device owners. The new partners (CNN, IBN, Jamba, Sony Pictures, RooftopComedy, ROK and Versaly Entertainment) are to join YouTube and Reuters in providing mobile video content for the Nokia Video Center (available on the Nokia N95 and Nokia N95 8GB).
News: Fox News Radio Together With GotVoice Launch First-of-Its-Kind Mobile Phone News Alert Service
FOX News Radio, the fastest growing radio news network, announced it has launched a first-of-its-kind, mobile phone news service called FOX News Radio Mobile. The only news network to provide this type of offering, Fox News Radio in partnership with GotVoice, the voice messaging company, will provide silent delivery of FOX News Radio Mobile news content directly into the voice mailbox of subscribers.
Clue: Must have Windows Mobile Software
Over at WMExperts, HobbesIsReal has posted recommendations for �Must Have� Windows Mobile software.
Trends: More of What Can be Done on the Run
In an article that appeared in The New York Times (�At Starbucks, Songs of Instant Gratification�), though the focus was on a new service that lets you download songs that you hear at Starbucks onto your iPhone or iTuned-notebook computer, it also delved into other types of technologies that are being tested for �impulse purchases.�
�Credit card companies in particular are experimenting with ways to turn the phone into a conduit for card purchases and to offer incentives, like coupons, for mobile purchases. Visa, for instance, is developing technology that will allow people to wave their cellphones in front of a reader to pay for items under $25 without a signature.�
�Visa, which takes a piece of the action of credit purchases and would love to see buying opportunities blossom, introduced a new microcard last week. It works like a credit card, but it is small enough to fit onto a key chain. At merchants equipped with wireless payment systems, consumers wave the card to pay; purchases under $25 do not require a signature. Visa is also rolling out a �mobile payment platform.� That�s marketing-speak for software that not only lets consumers pay by waving their phones, but also lets merchants beam coupons to their customers on the go. For instance, Visa has experimented at its headquarters in Foster City, Calif., with sending employees coupons for discounts in the company cafeteria.�
There�s no doubt that the �on the go� market is hot and getting hotter.
It was kind of funny to see this coming from Microsoft:
�Untamed Workforce,� is a new advertising campaign that pokes fun at the �untamed� mobile warrior. Words don�t do it justice. Let�s just say this is more like something you�d expect from Comcast, not Microsoft. Enjoy!
That�s a wrap!
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