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Talkin Treo v050407

Fri May 4, 2007 - 1:41 PM EDT - By Annie Latham

Week ending 4 May 2007

There’s no doubt that the 800-lb gorilla in the room is the iPhone. Palm and Research In Motion (parent of the BlackBerry) are not sitting on their hands as the countdown to the iLaunch of the iPhone commences. Rather, it is full steam ahead with a multitude of products and services to draw in consumers. For example, this week the BlackBerry Curve was thrown into the mix. It is the most consumer-focused device yet from a company that is really trying to get folks to think of the BlackBerry as more than an email device. Along with a new “curvy” look, one of the key features is its media software (co-developed by Roxio)—that allows users to search for and organize music and video files, and create playlists.

Meanwhile, back in Sunnyvale, Palm has been proactively working to bring more application developers into the family. As noted in the Palm Blog, Palm will be attending Microsoft's Mobile and Embedded Developers Conference (MEDC) next week in Las Vegas. On Monday they will be launching the Treo Windows Mobile Challenge – a contest to see who can come up with the hottest new Treo application. What’s at stake? $10,000 and a XBOX 360.

Let’s hope the competition is fierce and choosing a winner is especially tough. The more cool applications, the better!

Along with a continuous stream of third party software, the world of Treo continues to gain new accessories. It’s pretty clear that Palm users have a lot more choices than users of the Curve or iPhone. If you think about it, Palm’s proven track record is a huge differentiator as they compete with folks who seem to be focused on the “cool” factor.

So without further ado, let’s talk about some of these new accessories.

Let’s Talk Treo!

Palm News

As for official announcements, it was a relatively quiet week for Palm.

Palm’s CFO Presenting at Piper Jaffray Semiconductor & Communications Conference

Palm announced that their Chief Financial Officer Andrew J. Brown is scheduled to present at the Ninth Annual Piper Jaffray Semiconductor & Communications Conference in New York on Wednesday, May 9, 2007 at 9:10 a.m. ET. Details are available on Palm’s investor relations site.

Taking Over the World…

For the first time in a very long time, Palm did not issue a global expansion press release this week (as of my column's deadline).

Palm Marketing/Advertising Campaign Receives Kudos

Palm’s use of new media has garnered a bit of attention. AdWeek ran a story (“Marketers Try Out New Media With Small But Effective Campaigns” By Michael Applebaum) that noted the effectiveness of the campaign Palm used as part of the launch of the Treo 680 back in December, where they took to the streets with interactive kiosks capable of producing a live demo of the product:

“Consider Palm, whose $21 million in measured media spending on its Treo Smartphones last year was less than one-tenth the size of IBM's overall ad budget. Yet for the new Treo 680, Palm produced a digital outdoor campaign that got more than a few pedestrians to stop, look and listen to a giant image of the Treo offering a live demonstration of its Web capabilities.”

In the May 2007 issue of MediaPost’s OMMA magazine, Liz Tascio wrote a story (“Cross-Media Case Study: Is That a Palm in Your Pocket?”) which also delved into that launch campaign for the Treo 680.

“If you look at their campaign, which is a good one, they’re leveraging off the very positive brand they have for Palm and Treo and trying to take them out of the realm of Palm enthusiasts,” says Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director at JupiterResearch. “They’re focused on a much more mainstream consumer — the soccer mom, to whom Google is as much a part of her life now as a minivan.”

Liz noted in her story how each piece of the campaign —from SMS-enabled bus shelters to old-fashioned street teams — sent a message about how useful a Treo can be.

“We’ve got to appeal to those things that people like to do, and demonstrate that they can do those things while they’re mobile,” says Scott Hancock, director of marketing communications for Palm.

As I was saying, Palm isn’t taking competitive threats sitting down.

Recent TreoCentral Guides, Reviews & More

Review: CorePlayer for PalmOS - By Harv Laser

Harv checked out the commercial version (as opposed to the freeware one) of CorePlayer ($19.95) by CoreCodec, which has a shiny new GUI and better control buttons.

“When it comes to video playback on your Treo, almost nothing beats CorePlayer’s versatility and compatibility. It supports more media file types than Las Vegas has casinos, well.. not quite.. ("I plead artistic liberty, your Honor")… but it gives you nearly limitless options on how to play and fine-tune them optimally for your viewing pleasure. As far as audio players go, CP comes close to hitting the mark, and though it’s not as snazzy as PocketTunes or Kinoma Player 4EX, it certainly packs a punch, at a very sweet price point...”

This review also contains a brief history of photography and motion pictures that’s sure to delight anyone seeking some context to the discussion of multimedia players for Treos and other handheld devices.

Review: Smartphone Experts Pen Stylus (3-Pack) for Treo 680 - By Jimmie Geddes

Jimmie looked at a “multi-tasking” styli for the Treo 680 by Smartphone Experts.

“…these styli are definitely a step up from the stock stylus Palm includes. So in my opinion you’re getting one heck of a deal for 3 stylus pens for $14.95. If you’ve got a Treo 680 and want a more substantial stylus look no further than theSmartphone Experts Pen Stylus (3-Pack) for Treo 680 ..”

Review: Sena Cases Leather Skin for Treo 680 and 750 - By Douglas Morse

Douglas compares the Sena Cases Leather Skin ($39.95) with the Sena Cases Croco Skin. He concluded the Leather Skin “looks good, works well and is worth considering if this is the functionality you’re after.” He wasn’t pleased with the loss of access to IR and the SD slot though.

Clue: Treo Software Update Roundup - By Jennifer Chappell

This week, Jennifer took a look at some interesting new software applications for the Treo: Skinner for the Treo 680, LightWav 2, Resco Neeews! and mRing by MotionApps.

Talkin’ TreoCast

In this episode, along with the usual news and reviews, the hosts discuss the 700p Maintenance Release, the coming Virtual Blackberry software, and some neat little PalmOS applications. In the TreoGuide segment, they cover how to save a wet Treo.

Elsewhere in the World of Treo…

He Likes It! – NY Times Columnist Names 700p “Best Smartphone”

This week, David Pogue, who writes a column in the Circuits section of the NY Times, declared winners (Pogue’s Picks) in several product categories.

For “Best Smartphone (for now),” he said it was a tie between the Treo 700p (usually $300) and the BlackBerry Curve (probably $200). He noted:

“My heart has always been with the Palm phones, with their touch screens, dedication to intelligent design and wealth of add-on programs. Adding Verizon's superior network coverage and high-speed (if pricey) Internet is just gravy.”

News: Handango Announces Q1 Yardstick Results

This week, Handango, the world's leading provider of smartphone content, released the 2007 First Quarter edition of the Handango Yardstick, a quarterly report on the state of the mobile content industry.

Their bestseller list of Palm OS applications, includes:

  • 1. PocketMirror Standard
  • 2. Diet & Exercise Assistant
  • 3. Ringo Pro
  • 4. Agendus Professional Edition
  • 5. Diet & Exercise Assistant Desktop

    Their bestseller list of Windows Mobile Pocket PC includes:

  • 1. MobiTV
  • 2. Spb Mobile Shell
  • 3. Spb Pocket Plus
  • 4. Microsoft Voice Command
  • 5. Pocket Informant

    Clue: Forbes Notes “Must Have” Mobile Software

    In a related story, Rachel Rosmarin has written an article about some interesting “must have” software for mobile devices. Her list includes Google Maps and a program called Emoze. Check out the slideshow that accompanies the article.

    Review: MiniTones Freeware

    Andrew at Treonauts has written about a freeware application called MiniTones for adding MP3 ringtones directly to your Treo.

    “Overall, MiniTones is an extraordinarily quick, simple and extremely convenient way to add MP3 ringtone capabilities to your PalmOS Treo smartphone and is an ideal solution for any Treonaut with basic ringtone needs. More demanding or advanced users will continue to be best served by the more extensive features of Ringo Pro or the latest version of mRing which has become increasingly more popular.

    Review: picKeyGuard - KeyGuard Picture Application from Toysoft

    John Andrews at MyTreo.net tried out picKeyGuard, a KeyGuard replacement tool that let’s you display a custom half-screen or full-screen JPG picture when the KeyGuard is active. PicKeyGuard can be configured to show the current date and time on the screen with different font and color.

    “If you use the KeyGuard feature on your Treo and you enjoy seeing your favorite pictures during the day, then you will probably find the inexpensive picKeyGuard a fun addition to your Treo.”

    Review: Seidio Super Slim Hybrid case for the Treo 680

    Sion Phillips at MyTreo.net provided his thoughts on the Seidio Super Slim Hybrid case for the Treo 680. What makes it a “hybrid” is the back is identical to the back piece from the rubberized super slim case and the front is from the crystal clear super slim case. He notes, “This combination of parts gives you the best features of both cases.”

    “Overall I recommend this product. If you want to protect your Treo with a robust, lightweight case - this is a superb way to go.”

    Review: Prima Jacket Series Case

    Alex Matthews at TreoBits checked out Prima’s new Jacket Series case for the Treo (650, 680, 700 series). Hand-crafted from premium leather, this Treo Jacket offers the slim, low profile styling preferred by many Treo users. It features small elastic side vents enable device to remain securely in place, even if upside down, yet flexible enough for easy removal.

    “This style of case fits my usage quite well. The case I use on a day to day basis is a leather holster style with a magnetic closure at the top. The clip on that case is a bit tighter, so it suits my use of the case clipped to my front pocket a bit better, but I didn't find much difficulty using the Prima case the same way. I can say that not having a magnetic closure over the top was nice, since it made it much easier to get to the Treo when needed. I think the construction of this case will hold up a bit better than my current case since the leather is better quality that's not overly soft. With this style of case you want it to be a bit stiffer, and that's what you get with the Prima case. I'm going to continue to use this case, and for those that would like the added protection of a leather holster style case should definitely consider this case. It holds the Treo very securely, looks good, and is very well made.”

    Review: Brando Mini Bluetooth Keyboard

    Ed Hardy at Brighthand tried out the Brando Mini Bluetooth Keyboard, which he described as “easily the smallest add-on keyboard I've ever used.”

    I know there are larger keyboards than this one on the market that are much easier to type on, but it seems silly to me to carry around an add-on keyboard that's larger than my smartphone. That's why I like the Brando Mini Bluetooth Keyboard. It's not the easiest one around to use, but it's certainly the easiest one to carry.”

    Review: Smartphone Experts Power Bundle for Treo 750

    Jeff at WMExperts checked out the Smartphone Experts Power Bundle for the Treo 750. This bundle includes a wall charger, car charger, and a retractable sync and charge cable.

    “None of the chargers included with the SPE Power Bundle are extraordinary, but they all work exactly how one would expect. However, the best part of this bundle is the price. You get 3 chargers for less than $30, which is the usual cost of just a car charger at your local cell phone store! The different chargers in this bundle have all of the chargers and a lot of the features that you would want in a power bundle at a GREAT price. Another outstanding product from SmartPhone Experts.”

    Review: Shout Postcard

    PJ Arts at Palm Addicts played with Shout Postcard, an application that allows you to use your Treo to combine a photo, audio, and a text message into a multimedia postcard.

    “Shout Postcard is a 'must-have' application for any Travelling Treonaut. Whether you are into real estate, take a lot of vacations, or just like to make sure your wife knows where your are, this is one terrific little app. Aside from the few enhancements I'd like to see, this is a beautifully engineered application, and is tightly integrated into the Treo's native apps, keyboard and D-pad.”

    Clue: Treonauts Provides GPS Overview

    If you found yourself wondering about navigation systems but not really knowing what questions to ask or how to select one for your Treo, then this article by Andrew at Treonauts will be very helpful.

    Overall, navigating with a Treo GPS solution is the closest that I’ve come to driving on auto-pilot and every time that I use it still often wonder how I ever managed to live without one in “the old days”.

    Mobile Trends: Hawkins Mobile Games Cafe Modeled On Starbucks

    Over at MocoNews, James Quintana Pearce pointed out an interesting story that appeared in Red Herring (“Trip Hawkins Brews Up Café”) about what Digital Chocolate’s Trip Hawkins has up his sleeve. Apparently Trip has hinted that his company is planning to launch a new mobile games brand, Café, which will let players socialize, create digital characters, and recommend games to their friends.

    “Inspired by the success of Starbucks—which he describes as a third place between work and home where people can gather and enjoy a social experience with a personalized cup of coffee—Mr. Hawkins wants Café to offer the same thing in a mobile package.”

    Sounds sweet!

    Endnotes & Ponderables:

    Foonz Ya’ Later!

    PopGadget has pointed out an interesting free service called Foonz that allows you to make calls to whole groups of people on your cell phone.

    In brief, here’s how it works. When you sign up with Foonz, you can create different call groups. Then Foonz will assign you a special number to use to initiate a group call. Members of your group will receive a text message from Foonz inviting them to the call. Seems like an interesting concept and worth a try.

    Here’s one more for the road—totally non-Treo related, but definitely a ponderable.

    02:03:04 05/06/07

    This seems to be the year for folks who are into numbers. For example, already quite a few people have signed up to get married on 07/07/07. And now Chrysler is giving away one new car to someone who delivers a baby at 2:03:04 a.m. on 05/06/07.

    “This sequential time and date is novel because it won't occur for another hundred years,” Chrysler said in a release. And how they happened to connect a new baby with Chrysler eludes me (unless the first one is coming off the line on o5/06/07). Oh well…

    That’s a wrap!

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