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Talkin' Treo - v060807

Fri Jun 8, 2007 - 11:50 AM EDT - By Annie Latham

Week ending 8 June 2007

Wow!!! That pretty much sums up the week. “Wow!” is what CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler said in a letter to “Jericho” boosters after the show was issued a reprieve.

“Wow !!” is the reaction to the buzz about yet another Treo on the horizon or the talk about a keyboard-less Treo as a companion to the Foleo.

But the biggest “Wow!!!” of all was the announcement that private-equity firm Elevation Partners is investing $325 million in Palm and upon closing of the transaction, Jon Rubinstein, former senior vice president of hardware engineering and head of the iPod division at Apple, will join Palm as executive chairman of the board.

Can you say “It’s a beautiful day”? Of course, that’s a reference to the fact that rock star Bono is a co-founder and managing director of Elevation Partners.

Wow, what a week! So without further ado, Let’s Talk Treo!

Palm News

The biggest news of the week, as mentioned above, was the influx of cash and personnel that’ll surely help Palm as they ratchet up their efforts to compete against the iPhone and the plethora of products soon to crowd the smartphone market. TreoCentral had a good write-up about it. And here are a few clips from commentary that has appeared about the deal:


“Who better to help gird Palm for the onslaught than former Apple folks? IDC analyst Randy Giusto says what Palm needs is a round of product upgrades that will appeal to consumers targeted by Apple's iPhone marketing blitz, but also stand up against RIM amid enterprises. When individuals buy a smart handheld for themselves, they tend to buy a Treo, Giusto says. But when the boss is footing the bill, the device is often a BlackBerry. "The biggest thing that Palm needs is some serious innovation across its products lines," Giusto says.”

CNET: Palm: The New Comeback Kid?

"Rubinstein is a good addition for them," said Charles Golvin, an analyst with Forrester Research. "And there is a lot of potential for success. But the cell phone market is not the MP3 market. Palm is not creating a new category. It needs to evolve the market. So there are a whole set of other challenges associated with that."

Motley Fool

This was written by Tim Beyers, who still owns a Treo 600 (it says he's planning to beat it up till it dies).

"The irony of this deal for me: If Rubinstein is able to capture some of the same magic he brought to Apple, Palm could re-emerge among Silicon Valley's elite. A Rule Breaker in the making, if you will. But I think that's a long shot. Palm has never been short on innovation…

I wish Elevation, Rubinstein, and the existing team at Palm the best. They deserve the second shot this recapitalization provides. I just don't believe that the outcome will be any different. At least, not until the remaining executives realize the harsh truth: They stink at running the business they've created."

Taking Over the World

Treo 750 in the Philippines

Palm announced the availability of the Treo 750 smartphone on the SMART network in the Philippines. The Treo 750 is the fastest and first Treo smartphone to take advantage of the High-speed Download Packet Access (HSDPA) wireless broadband network of Smart Communications, Inc. (SMART), the country's leading wireless services provider. Smart Communications, Inc. is the Philippines' leading wireless services provider with 25.5 million subscribers on its GSM network as of end-March 2007.

More Thoughts on the Palm Foleo

Here’s a rundown of some additional comments that have been posted about the Foleo.

Barron’s Online (30 May)

“ThinkEquity’s Jonathan Hoopes earlier today (May 30) raised his rating on the stock to Buy. “Our preliminary read is that this device, while clearly new, may take some time to catch on,” he wrote. “After all, as Palm moves upstream from its handheld computing roots, PC manufacturers are moving downstream from full-featured desktop platforms. One thing appears certain: mobility is the future and consumers will have ever more options to experience ‘any time, anywhere’ access to digital content, be it work- or entertainment-related.” He also asserted that the device “should validate Palm’s Linux development efforts.”

Digital Trends

Rob Enderle wrote:

“It will probably take awhile for the market to get this right, and most folks simply don’t like change anyway (look back at the number of people who thought the iPod would fail). But Foleo could be bigger than you think, and if it evolves like it could, it very well might change the future of personal computing.”

Information Week (“Palm's Foleo Fails To Wow’)

“…But there's a whole class of mobile e-mail users turned off by the thumb-typing experience who may find Foleo more amenable, says Carmi Levy, an analyst at Info-Tech Research Group. Another plus: The Foleo comes with a Wi-Fi connection, making it, in combination with the Treo, a dual-mode device of the sort many have been waiting for.”


John Andrews remarked:

“Like any first generation device, the first Foleo Mobile Companion will have some shortcomings and some of them will be showstoppers for certain users. The initial price is fairly high if you only see the Foleo as a full-size keyboard for your Treo, and the features are too skimpy if you see it as an alternative to a laptop. But I’m sure that there are a number of smartphone users out there like myself who will immediately find the Foleo a useful companion for their Treo or Windows Mobile device. And I think that, just like in the early days of the Palm Pilot, the number of users will increase over time.”

ZDNet – Mobile Gadgeteer

Matthew Miller wrote:

“I think Hawkins has done an amazing job with the first Palm device, the Handspring models, and the very successful Treo line, but I am not yet sold on this latest device. Palm released the LifeDrive as a new “mobile manager” category of device that turned out being the only device in this category and is now not even sold by Palm. Unfortunately, I think the Palm Foleo and “mobile companion” device category may suffer the same fate.”

Other Foleos on the Horizon?

Though Palm has taken a bit of flack regarding the Foleo, it seems that several companies have small form factor PCs in the works. An article in The Wall Street Journal (“Firms Vie to Trim Gap Between Laptops, Cellphones”), talked about some products being shown at Computex trade show in Taiwan:

The NanoBook, a portable PC weighing less than two pounds, with a 7-inch display and a similarly-sized device was announced at the event by Asustek Computer Inc., under the name Eee PC 701.

“The two companies, both based in Taiwan, exemplify an industry camp that believes full-sized keyboards are essential for many users. That philosophy also underlies Foleo, a compact computer unveiled by Palm Inc. last week that is styled as a companion to smart phones.”

Note: WSJ - Registration is required

A Reader Weighs In

I received an email from a reader of this column named Henry. He remarked:

I don't think you understand the full implications of the foleo. First of all, the price. If it isn't down to about $100 in a year or so, I'll eat my hat. Now add a mouse (for games) a movie player, and a way to hook up a printer and you have a perfect, and cheap home computer that does everything needed at home and folds up nicely when not needed. Philadelphia is going full WiFi this year and I expect all other cities to follow.

This thing is going to be huge, but with tons of copies. Whether Palm can keep market leadership is the question.

Recent TreoCentral Guides, Reviews & More

Review: TeleNav Five Point Ooh! - By Harv Laser

Harv checked out TeleNav, a subscription-based service that works with any Bluetooth GPS receiver.

“Of all those I've tried, TeleNav V5 for PalmOS is my favorite GPS solution so far. It's obvious that MANY thousands of man and woman hours went into this new, free upgrade. Yes, it's a subscription service, but you can try it for free, subscribe if you like it, and bail out at any time. Its small footprint on your Treo means no ponderous maps to carry around on a card. Even if you drive into a dreaded "no signal here, pal" area, the program "thinks ahead"; it remembers your plotted route and keeps on prompting and routing you until it re-acquires a data connection.”

Note: As of the deadline for this review, the company has only certified that TeleNav works correctly with Sprint and Verizon Treo 700p models.

Review: Smartphone Experts CombiFlip Case for Treo 680 - By Jennifer Chappell

Jennifer had a chance to try out the Smartphone Experts CombiFlip case -- an open face case with a flip cover. She wrote:

“I really like the Smartphone Experts CombiFlip Case and I've found it to be another one of my favorites. I like that you can use the case with or without the flip cover. Having easy access to the keyboard, screen, and all the ports and buttons is very important to me, and this case provides all that. It's great having the five colors to choose from and the leather is really pretty. The leather on the Black case has a smoother feel than the leather on the Saddle Brandy case. The Saddle Brandy leather has more of an orange peel texture. Both cases are beautiful and go great with my Copper Treo 680.”

Review: Covertec Universal Leather Case - By Jay Gross

Jay checked out this classy, leather case that worked great with any of his four Treos (including his crimson 680 with the Seidio 2400 mAh Extended Battery in it):

“Universal or not, Covertec’s Universal Leather case fits Treos beautifully, especially the Treo 680 sporting the extra-hump battery. It offers great protection from the proverbial slings and arrows that life dishes out and leaves the headset jack usable. It worked its protective wonders for me, even in a (gasp!) drop.”

Clue: Treo Software Update Roundup - By Jennifer Chappell

Jennifer provides an excellent overview on a bunch of Treo software that has been released/updated recently. Some of the programs include: TreoWeather, KeyguardExt, TopStory, Trip Boss, Call Block and Kinoma.

Elsewhere in the World of Treo…

Clue: PowerGuide – Covering Batteries, Chargers & Cradles

Andrew over at Treonauts has put together an excellent guide to all things power for your Treo. The ones he has recommended in this article “have withstood the test of time, are all high quality products and will guarantee that your Treo is always powered anywhere you go.”

Clue: Essential Treo Accessories

Palm Addicts had an interesting story this week on essential Treo Accessories (case, spare battery, sync-charge cable, Bluetooth headset, stereo headphones, and more).

Review: INNODock Junior Cradle

John Andrews tried out the “light” version of Seidio’s INNODock. This one is a viable option if “you don’t have any plans to listen to music while your Treo is in the dock.” It costs $10 less.

He remarked:

“Since I frequently keep my Treo in a case or skin, the INNODock is my cradle of choice. I had previously purchased the original INNODock with audio output for my Treo 650 so I could charge my Treo at work and listen to music with my headphones at the same time. However, when looking for a cradle to use at home I realized I could save some money by buying the INNODock Junior because I already use my computer to play music and podcasts.”

Review: Garmin Mobile 20

CNET’s Bonnie Cha gave the Garmin Mobile 20 GPS car kit a try. It accommodates a number of Palm- and Windows Mobile-based smart phones and offers turn-by-turn directions and hands-free operation. You can also receive traffic alerts, weather updates and more, and send your location to contacts via text message.

“…Though the setup is a bit messy, the Garmin Mobile 20 is a nice alternative for smart phone owners who need navigation help but don't want to buy a standalone GPS device.”

Review: Palm Bluetooth Keyboard

Kris Keilhack wrote:

“Palm has once again managed to hit a home run with an accessory release. This Bluetooth keyboard is simply the finest experience I have ever had with a wireless portable keyboard. All of their issues that plagued earlier, pricier Bluetooth ‘boards have seemingly been resolved. At the same time Palm has bundled a solid driver and configuration utility and introduced a few novel twists into the overall user experience. Aside from the lack of any side supports to keep overly wobbly Treos secure on the easel, I can find very few faults with this keyboard…”

Review: Resco Explorer 2007 for Palm OS

Per Mike Slocombe at Digital Lifestyles:

“A veritable Swiss army knife of file management functionality, Resco Explorer is a must-have app for advanced Palm users who like to get under the hood of their handhelds and take command of their files.

Review: Agendus Mail

Ryan Rix at TamsPalm-the Palm OS Blog just posted a review titled: “5 things I hate about VersaMail - the Agendus Mail review.” He wrote:

“So, if you use your Palm for mail and are being constantly annoyed by VersaMail, check out AgendusMail (GMail users should pick up the SSL edition.) It is a great app definitely worth trying out!”

News: Pocket Watch Software Releases ActivePrint 5.1

Pocket Watch Software announced the release of ActivePrint 5.1, their award-winning program that gives Windows Mobile Smartphone users the ability to print mobile content from their device.

ActivePrint is the only mobile printing solution that allows you to print through three different methods: MS ActiveSync or Mobile Device Center, a TCP/IP connection, or through your Smartphone’s SD card.

The only requirements are a Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone or newer, a Windows XP/Vista laptop or desktop, and a printer.

News: TraxItAll Releases latest Upgrade, TraxItAll XT

TraxItAll has just announced the release of its latest upgrade, TraxItAll XT, a desktop module for Windows-based computers. This module enables users of the TraxItAll Palm OS program to print out reports of their data—and even email these reports as PDF files. The desktop module is a free add-on to the Palm OS program. The trial is available here. To see how it works, there’s a flash demo here.

News: Cars.com Goes Mobile

Cars.com has just launched a mobile version of its website. Designed to help consumers shop for and research cars while using a mobile device, such as a cell phone or a PDA, users will have access to the site’s inventory of 2 million new and used vehicles and get more details and photos on specific cars. The service will also give access to Kelley Blue Book’s Used-Car Values, let people calculate vehicle payments and read expert reviews and the latest automotive news via Cars.com’s blog, KickingTires. They’ll also be able to find a local dealer through the mobile site’s dealer locater.

News: Nielson Wireless Service Tracks Nation’s 230 Mil Cellphone Owners

This week, the Nielsen Company announced that it will begin measuring mobile phone users through a new service called Nielsen Wireless. This service will measure how many people use content services such as mobile Internet and mobile video and what impact this has on established media behavior.

News: Missing Sync for Palm OS V6 Released

Mark/Space just announced the release of version 6.0 of The Missing Sync for Palm OS, the company's software that connects and synchronizes devices running the Palm operating system with Apple Mac OS X computers. This latest release introduces several new features, a number of which are designed specifically for users of Treo smartphones. New features include new Mac call log information and SMS messages backup functionality, address book improvements, a new notebook application and new two-way video conversion and backup.

News: Earthcomber's New Mobile Service Turns Cell Phone into Personal "Robo-Scout"

Earthcomber has released a new type of navigation that spots personal needs or desires nearby. It provides global positioning (GPS) alternatives for phones without it. Unlike most navigation programs, Earthcomber emphasizes discovery.

“With only a few taps, Earthcomber can quickly locate hundreds of different types of places and events, all arranged by distance to the individual's location. For instance, clicking once on “Let's Eat” finds all types of local cuisines at once. Clicking “Essentials” finds coffee, ATMs, WiFi spots and more.”

The service is free, aside from data charges by wireless networks. Note: An earlier release of Earthcomber was reviewed back in November by TreoCentral’s Harv Laser.

News: Sprint Customers Get New Location-Aware Shopping Application from GPShopper

A few weeks ago I wrote about NearbyNow, a service that enables consumers to search for products, brands, and sales available at local shopping centers using the Internet or mobile phones. Here’s another in that genre.

This week, Sprint and GPShopper announced the launch of Slifter, the first mobile local product search application that employs GPS technology to find products at neighboring retail locations. Slifter makes real-world shopping more interactive: customers simply enter a keyword, product name, model number or UPC code to find a product. They can then view product availability, price and promotional information. Sprint GPS capabilities ensure the closest possible retailers are identified in the search. From video games to vacuum cleaners, using Slifter, Sprint customers can now search for more than 85 million products available at more than 30,000 retail stores across the country.

Trends: Mobile Dating?!

According to this story that appeared in The Wall Street Journal, “Millions of consumers have begun prowling for a date on their cellphones, thanks to new mobile dating services that enable "real-time" dating -- that is, letting users connect on the spot with the people they pick out. Designed to be instant versions of Internet dating, many of the new services have capabilities that online-dating services haven't offered -- such as letting you search for a date in a location you can update as you move around, and letting you chat with other people seeking a date while you're out and about.”

SideStory: Coca-Cola Plans Mobile Social Network To Promote Sprite

Coca-Cola has just announced Sprite Yard — a mobile social network that will let users create profiles and exchange photos and messages.

Sprite Yard, to be introduced in the United States this month, will look a lot like the social networking sites that have become popular on the Internet. Consumers will be able to set up personal profiles, share photos and chat online with friends, all using cellphones rather than computer screens.”

New promotion, same methodology: Like other beverage company promotions, Sprite Yard will require folks to type in codes from Sprite bottle caps to redeem original content (like ring tones and short video clips called mobisodes).

Endnotes & Ponderables:

You can smell it in the air – summer is almost here. And just in time for your vacation, The New York Times published a story about postcard alternatives:

“…moblogging is a quick, simple way to share your personal postcards; it’s cheaper, too, given the price of stamps these days.”

This is definitely worth pondering. Sure beats trying to find stamps.

Note: NYT - registration required

Feelin’ Retro…

This week, with the release of "Pac Man Championship Edition," its designer Toru Iwatani is retiring from the $30 billion games industry he helped ignite. The new version of the iconic arcade game was created for the final round of the Xbox 360 Pac-Man World Championship to be held in New York. Pac Man debuted 27 years ago and is alive and well for Treo users via Namco.

One Man's Junk is Another Man's Treasure

And speaking of retro, here’s one more story for the road. There’s a company that has collected unwanted phones and is now selling them at premium prices. The website for Frill Free Phones is kind of fun to peruse. There’s even a section that shows old phone ads. Wow!

That’s a wrap!

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