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Talkin' Treo - v091407

Fri Sep 14, 2007 - 11:00 AM EDT - By Annie Latham

Week ending 14 September 2007

I suppose you are wondering how I go from “Aaugh!” last week, to “It’s all Good” this week. I guess because I’m starting to see good things. The Treo 500v may be an indication of things to come – after all, it doesn’t appear to be a “re-tread” which is what the analysts seem to be harping on Palm about. The comparisons to RIM’s BlackBerry Curve are a nice change.

As noted below, Palm completed the changes in their Board of Directors. There was an article in InformationWeek that mentioned how the appointment of Jonathan Rubenstein (“Former iPod Exec “) as executive chairman of Palm's board could lift the smartphone maker from its current design slump.

Yeah, things are definitely moving in the right direction. It is especially nice to know that the market for smartphones is continuing to grow, and that demand is getting the attention of content and service providers. That means that there will be even more fun things to do with your Treo (and an unlimited data plan).

So without further ado, Let’s Talk Treo!

Palm News

Palm Holds Annual Meeting

Palm held its annual meeting of stockholders on Wednesday. The agenda for the meeting was outlined in the company's proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Aug. 8, 2007. You can access the Webcast by registering here.

Palm Stockholders Approve Transaction Involving Investment by Elevation Partners On Wednesday, Palm made an announcement stating their stockholders have approved proposals that will permit them to conclude a $325 million investment by Elevation Partners, L.P., borrow up to $400 million in an associated debt financing, make a cash distribution of $9.00 per share to Palm stockholders, and make related adjustments to its equity plans.

In other actions, the stockholders elected Gordon Campbell and Donna Dubinsky as Class II directors to serve until the annual meeting of Palm stockholders to be held in 2010, and ratified the appointment of Deloitte & Touche LLP as the Company's independent registered public accounting firm for the fiscal year ending May 30, 2008.

Talkin’ Treo 500v

The big news from Palm this week was the announcement about the Treo 500v. In brief, it combines multiple forms of communication and multimedia capabilities with high-speed 3G/UMTS mobile internet access, allowing users access to popular websites such as MySpace, YouTube and eBay whilst on the move. The new Palm Treo 500v smartphone will initially be available exclusively to Vodafone customers from October. It runs Windows Mobile 6 Standard operating system. No WiFi and, get this – No touchscreen!

“Research In Motion has done just fine without a BlackBerry with touch screen. Now it's Palm's turn to give it a try,” said James Alan Miller of PDA Street.

“There is no WiFi support so this is more of an entry to mid level Palm smartphone. I think we’ll see news of a device with this form factor in the U.S. soon too,” said Matthew Miller of The Mobile Gadgeteer.

First Look at the Treo 500

The buzz was pretty big leading up to this announcement. Here’s a sampling of comments from those who had a chance to participate in the media event.

Andrew at Treonauts wrote:

“I have been VERY impressed with this new Treo – it is beautifully designed, feels very solidly built and is extremely slim and light (only 120 grams)…”
“…Overall you will have gathered that I am extremely impressed by the Treo 500 – a smartphone that felt absolutely fantastic from the moment I laid my hands on it and is very cool indeed. I would have been even more overjoyed if it had been running PalmOS but at least this gives me even more high hopes that the forthcoming Palm Centro (due to be released by Sprint within the next two months) will manage to please the young crowds that this device is clearly targeted at.”

Sammy at Palm Addicts wrote:

“I have to say that I quite like the design; it's slightly slimmer than the Treo 680 but it is not as thin obviously as the iPhone…”
“…My initial thoughts were typed on the Treo 500v so it's seems fair to say that it can handle typing large documents with ease, my experience was fine with no problems.”

Note: He typed up his thoughts on the British Airways Shuttle from Heathrow to Manchester, Wednesday evening. Also, He also has created a video you can check out.

Mike at Digital Lifestyles wrote:

“Aimed at the 24-35 year old business/consumer demographic, our initial impression of the phone is very positive.
The screen looks bright and crisp, the body seems sturdy enough to take a few knocks and the keyboard feels up to the well-regarded Treo standard, although perhaps not quite as solid as the 650/680.”

Mike at SmartphoneThoughts noted (“Palm Treo 500v New Carousel Home Screen”):

"While the new Treo 500v doesn't include too much customized software, as we have seen it before with the Palm Treo 750 and 750v, the Treo 500v features one innovation which is a completely redesigned Home screen layout and menu structure. It's quite similar to the Samsung SGH-i600 Home screen carousel but it's different. First of all, the Home screen main navigation is left/right not up/down where tasks can be selected by navigation up/down later. However, unlike Samsung's Home screen carousel, which stays on the screen, the Vodafone menu is hidden on the first sight but it's activated by pressing the Start button."

Ryan Kim at the San Francisco Chronicle did a story (“Palm tries to bounce back with Treo 500v”) that included some interesting comments:

“The Treo 500v is priced to enable a broader audience to experience the Internet and e-mail on the go," John Hartnett, Palm's senior vice president of global markets and Windows business unit, said in a statement. "Today's generation has really embraced the Internet as a way of keeping in touch with friends and family, seeking out entertainment and managing their day-to-day lives. We can offer users the choice to do what they want, how they want, when they want."
“It's uncertain whether the Treo 500 and the Centro can turn that around. Analyst Todd Kort said the Treo 500v probably will not be a huge seller for Palm in Europe. But he said it shows Palm is finally refreshing its handset line and putting more emphasis on design."Palm is finally catching up to the pack," he said. "They had fallen way behind in terms of design; their devices were larger and heavier than most of their competitors. This new device looks competitive in that regard."

But alas, all was not “Sunny in Sunnyvale.” I’ll admit I was concerned when I opened up my New York Times on Saturday to see a story titled “They Just Call Them Smartphones.”. The author, Joe Nocera, made some rather harsh comments about the Treo, which I guess is understandable considering his opening sentence was “My Treo died.” He wrote:

“What killed it was, of all things, a software upgrade from Palm. I had finally gotten around to trying to get the 700p replaced, but Verizon Wireless insisted that I try Palm’s newly issued upgrade first, to see if that solved the problem. Instead the new software destroyed the phone; indeed, within a week, the upgrade had been withdrawn, with Palm posting a quasi-apology on its Web site promising a new upgrade that would fix the severe problems the previous one had caused.”

And he made interesting comments regarding the smartphone challenge:

“Before going any further, it’s worth pointing out something that nobody ever bothers to tell us nongeeks. It’s hard to make a good smartphone — so hard, in fact, that no one really has it right yet. BlackBerrys are great at e-mail, but the phone is barely adequate and its Internet abilities are not very good at all. The Motorola Q crashes almost as often as the Treo. The Apple iPhone is terrific for music and media, but lousy for e-mail and phoning.
Palm’s heritage is that it practically invented the hand-held device with its original Palm Pilot — and in that one fact lies both the root of the company’s problems and the explanation for what’s keeping it afloat today. On the one hand, believe it or not, the company is still using the same operating system it used when it was churning out Palm Pilot, which, please recall, had no Internet, no e-mail and no telephone.
No wonder my machine is so unstable.”

PC Magazine’s Sascha Segan, in a story titled “The Palm Death Watch Begins Now,” offered thoughts on the future of Palm.

“Palm seems to have taken an ancient OS and packed it into an even less usable design than the existing Treos. That's a step backward, not forward. There's still a sliver of hope for Palm. One company has come back from this level of ignominy to glory: Apple.”

Yes, there’s hope!

Time for Some Comic Relief: Palm and MobiTV Debut Treo Mobile Comedy Film Festival Benefiting ComedyCures

On Thursday, Palm and MobiTV, Inc., the leading provider and platform for content delivery over mobile and broadband networks, put out a press release to invite filmmakers to submit their made-for- mobile films to compete in the first Treo(TM) Mobile Comedy Film Festival which runs from Sept. 18th through Oct. 18th exclusively on the MobiTV(R) service.

A one-month free trial of MobiTV is available to Treo smartphone users at: www.mobitv.com/treofilm.

The film festival will award thousands of dollars in cash and prizes to the aspiring filmmakers from the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom, who come up with the funniest made-for-mobile comedy films.

Recent TreoCentral Guides, Reviews & More

Review: Mobi Products Clip Pouch - By Jay Gross

Jay took a look at Mobi Products Clip Pouch, which he described being “way simple, does its job well, and doesn’t lighten the wallet too bad (Just $9.95).” He wrote:

“Mobi Products takes a simple and attractive approach to Treo pouches with their Clip Pouch. It’s lightweight, less than an ounce, and adaptable to different ways of carrying, with its belt loop and rotating clip. Besides that, it looks good. The product’s low cost makes it extra attractive.”

Review: Gomadic QuadCharge - Charge up to Four Treos at Once - By Harv Laser

Harv tried out Gomadic’s QuadCharge Universal Charging Station-- a great solution if you have more than one device to charge. Gomadic markets charging products that use a "tip exchange system" which supports “FIFTEEN HUNDRED” different portable electronic devices (so far – there are more on the way). Harv wrote:

“The new QuadCharge is a slick piece of engineering that charges up to four devices at the same time, using only ONE AC wall adapter. Although it's nearly 100% plastic, I think it's fairly stylish, its soft and grippy rubber top keeps your electronics from sliding around all over the place, and you can plug and unplug devices at any time, without affecting any other devices it's charging.”

Review: Jabra JX10 II - By Andre Kibbe

Andre gave a listen to the new Jabra JX10 II Bluetooth headset. Featuring the trademark sleek design from the European design house of Jacob Jensen, the JX10 II has been given an internal makeover - giving it even greater performance than before. He wrote:

“The attention to detail Jabra (or the legendary Mr. Jensen) paid to this product is commendable. The design, the build quality and the sound quality are top notch. The only reason I’m docking it 1 out the 5 points in the Overall Rating that I would otherwise give it is the physical discomfort I experienced after extended wearing. I suspect that anyone who wears headsets as permanently as wristwatches wouldn’t be affected by this—I’m still mainly a handset user that switches to hands free operation in selective contexts—but you’ve been warned. Otherwise, this unit is a winner.”

Clue: Treo Software Roundup - By Jennifer Chappell

This week, Jennifer found more than three dozen programs to talk about (equally split between Palm OS and Windows Mobile). Some highlights include: Google Maps, LightWav2, MobiWrite, mTools, Navigator, NeatFreak Pack, Pretty Map Basic, SMSPager, Xtndr, Phone ScreenLock, SoftMaker Office 2006, VITO AstroNavigator II, IM All-in-One Messenger, PQV - Pocket Quick View, SoftMaker Office 2006 for Pocket PC and PhatNotes 5.0.

Elsewhere in the World of Treo…

There were fewer reviews this week, probably due to the 1-2 punch of Foleo and Treo 500v news. But quite a bit happened “news-wise” – especially in the areas of mobile content.

News: Smartphone Growth

The latest Gartner figures state worldwide sales of mobile phones grew 17 percent in the second quarter of this year. Gartner forecasts mobile phone sales worldwide will reach 1.13 billion units by the end of 2007.

Sales in North America showed strong growth. More than 41.4 million units were sold in the second quarter of 2007, a 7 percent increase from the same period in 2006.

News: SanDisk Takes Action against Alzheimer’s Disease with Two Special Products

This week, SanDisk joined the fight against Alzheimer’s disease by introducing special editions of two products: a two-gigabyte (GB) SanDisk Ultra II SD card and a two-gigabyte SanDisk Cruzer Micro USB flash drive. SanDisk will contribute $1 to the Alzheimer’s Association, the leading volunteer organization for Alzheimer’s research and family support, for each specially-branded product purchased through August 2008, up to a maximum of $1 million. The two products, which carry the same manufacturer’s suggested retail price as SanDisk’s regular 2GB SanDisk Ultra II SD card and 2GB Cruzer Micro drive, stand apart from the SanDisk line because they are purple - the signature color of the Alzheimer’s Association.

News: Windows Mobile to Mac Sync UtilityAvailable

Information Appliance Associates (IAA) announced the release of PocketMac for Windows Mobile 5 & 6, a new version of its sync utility for users of Windows Mobile smartphones and PDAs. It let’s Mac users synchronize the content of their Windows Mobile device with their to Mac, and works with Microsoft Entourage, Apple iCal, Address Book and other kinds of data, such as Microsoft World and Excel documents, MP3s and iPhone images over USB.

News: Comic Book Publishers Go Mobile

The Associated Press ran a story this week about how comic book publishers are making the leap to mobile phones.

“Wireless companies are still undecided on the future of mobile publishing as small screens and short battery lives make online reading a chore. But Charles Golvin, a wireless analyst for Forrester Research, said comic books could be different because they're what he called "quick hit content," like ring tones and wallpaper. "There are plenty of niches," he said. "My sense is that in the long term, as displays get better and networks get better and there's a better experience for all sorts of content, I think the comic book stuff makes a little bit more sense to me."

To learn more, go to GoComics (www.gocomics.com).

News: SendMe and Glu Partner for Mobile Content Distribution

This week, SendMe, Inc., the leading provider of direct-to-consumer mobile entertainment, announced a partnership with Glu Mobile Inc. (NASDAQ: GLUU), a leading global publisher of mobile games, to distribute Glu games in the U.S. on SendMe's newly launched Mobile Games Channel at SendMeMobile.com. The new channel features some of Glu's best-selling titles, including World Series of Poker® Texas Hold 'em, Zuma™, Diner Dash® and Centipede®. This new Mobile Games Channel will add to SendMe Mobile's already extensive catalog of content, offering hit Java-based mobile games from Glu and other top developers and publishers alongside the company's leading collection of ringtones, wallpapers, sweepstakes and SMS text products. These offerings combine to provide one of the broadest and deepest collections of downloadable mobile games available today. Anyone can sign up at www.SendMeMobile.com.

News: Visa’s Mobile Initiatives

According to this story that appeared in AdWeek, Visa is launching a pair of mobile initiatives in San Francisco that it hopes will help it learn more about what works in the still-emerging world of mobile marketing.

“The pilot programs, created with digital shop AKQA, seek to reach on-the-go consumers in restaurants and supermarkets to build the Visa Signature brand through useful applications. In one, which launched Sept. 1, shoppers at 19 Safeway and eight Mollie Stone's stores are invited by shelf displays to text Visa for wine and food pairings. In another launching later this month, diners at local restaurants can text Visa to receive voice messages from the establishment's chef about that evening's menu.”

Both programs include promotional messaging from Signature, the Visa brand for affluent cardholders.

News: Meez and Vringo Announce First-Ever Avatar Ringtones

This week, Meez™, the leading consumer avatar service, and Vringo, the pioneer in video ringtone sharing, announced an alliance to fully integrate Meez 3D avatars into Vringo's video ringtone service. Using Vringo, mobile phone users can now seamlessly load their 3D Meez avatars onto their mobile handsets for free. When a call is placed, the animated Meez appears on the recipient's phone screen as a video ringtone, or Vringo, graphically identifying the caller. Additionally, every time a user updates his or her avatar on Meez.com, the Vringo will automatically be updated. Users will also be able to personalize their mobile handsets by selecting Meez avatars as wallpaper that appears on handset screens when idle.

News: WeatherBug Selected by Verizon

Verizon Wireless and WeatherBug(R), the leading provider of live, local weather information, announced that WeatherBug has been selected by Verizon as the company's exclusive weather partner for several of its mobile entertainment and information services. Verizon Wireless customers can now receive WeatherBug's live, neighborhood weather -- the most precise coverage available -- via text messages, through the Get It Now(R) virtual store, on V CAST Video and through Mobile Web 2.0(SM). In addition, WeatherBug content will be available on certain Verizon Online Web sites serving both FiOS Internet and Verizon High Speed Internet customers.

News: Nuance Voice Control Exceeds Expectations on Palm Treo 755p

Nuance Communications put out a press release that offered initial usage statistics of the Nuance® Voice Control™ speech application pre-loaded on the new Palm® Treo™ 755p smartphone. Preliminary findings have already surpassed expectations with usage levels averaging 48 transactions per user, per month:

“Adoption rate of more than 15 percent (of units sold). Based on Nuance estimates, 17 percent of users who purchased a Treo 755p device in the first weeks following its release used Nuance Voice Control, an adoption rate well above industry average for pre-loaded mobile applications.
Voice Dialing, Web Search, and SMS are the most popular voice-activated transactions among Treo 755p users. Voice dialing accounts for 44 percent of usage, SMS and email dictation represent nearly 25 percent of usage, and Web Search (including finding a business, stock quotes, weather, Web navigation and search) represents 22 percent of usage. Web Search transactions carry a particularly strong value proposition to mobile operators through emerging ad-supported business models.”

News: NTP is at it Again!

NTP Inc, which last year won a $612.5 million settlement from the maker of Blackberry and tried to sue Palm (last November), has sued four of the top U.S. mobile service providers for infringing eight patents related to wireless e-mail.

The lawsuits, against Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel Corp, T-Mobile USA and the mobile unit of AT&T Inc were filed September 7 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, according to court documents.

NTP, which is asserting patents related to products, processes and services used for wireless e-mail systems, said it was seeking a jury trial, injunctive relief and monetary damages.

News: Google Adwords Ported to Mobile

According to this story posted at ClickZ, a year after it began testing paid listings on its mobile search product, Google has opened AdWords generally to Google Mobile Search. Keyword management is integrated with the existing AdWords interface, and advertisers will automatically have their listings delivered on the mobile platform unless they request otherwise.

Note: U.S. mobile search advertising revenues are projected to reach $1.4 billion in 2012, up from $33.2 million in 2007, according to The Kelsey Group, in a story posted at eMarketer.com.

The optimistic estimate represents a compound annual growth rate of 112%.

Trend: Portable Navigation Devices Will Nearly Double in 2007

According to research firm, IDC, “greater public awareness, lower entry price points, more sophisticated features, and additional channels of distribution” are all contributing to the surge in demand for consumer navigation devices.

“Portable navigation devices (PNDs) remain the most popular segment of the consumer navigation market, representing 62% of the total worldwide market and nearly doubling in size with 93% growth over last year. IDC expects the entire consumer navigation market to grow by 53% worldwide in 2007.”

News: Sprint to Offer Online Shopping on Cell Phones

Sprint Nextel Corp customers can now use cell phones to shop for everything from shoes to televisions. The wireless provider developed its Mobile Shopper service with privately held start-up mShopper.com. It will enable shoppers to compare prices or buy about 7 million products from 30 online retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Target Corp bluefly.com and shoes.com. Sprint, which said it is the first to launch such a service in the United States, said it will not charge mobile users extra subscription fees for the service, but it will charge them for Web access.

Trend: Coupons via Cellphone

The Wall Street Journal had a story this week (“Coupons Gain New Market on Cellphones”) that talked about how marketers are looking closely at the viability of using mobile coupons (that is --coupons that appear on a cellphone and are redeemable by showing the phone to the cashier).

A noted retail commentator, Kevin Coupe remarked:

“My first reaction to this story is that it almost certainly should increase coupon redemption rates. It certainly shouldn't hurt.
But where I think this has to go is a system that puts the consumer in far greater control of the process. I would never sign up for a service that would allow a marketing company to send me whatever coupons they wanted to, even if I had a fair expectation that they’d only send me demographically appropriate coupons… I want to be able to control it myself.”

Endnotes & Ponderables:

Okay, to close things out, we move from coupons on your cellphone to a cellphone for your dog…

PopGadget found yet another interesting product: The PetsCell™.

It is the first voice enabled waterproof GPS cell phone optimized for canines. According to the company’s website:

“Combining industry leading GPS technology with the ability of 2-way communication, the PetsCell delivers consistency and quality of locates across a spectrum of encompassing conditions that existing pet tracking devices simply will not match. With remote programmable geo-fence capability and an ambient temperature sensor accompanied by a variety of other attachable devices, the PetsCell is quite simply the standard against which all other pet tracking devices will be measured.”

It sure does a lot. The 2-way communication is kind of interesting. I guess for the pet owner who has everything, or for those who like to shop at places like Neiman Marcus or Hammacher Schlemmer, this might make a nice gift. It runs $499 (plus activation, plus monthly charges).

That’s a wrap!

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