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Talkin' Treo - v102607

Fri Oct 26, 2007 - 10:45 AM EDT - By Annie Latham

Week ending 26 October 2007

There was a lot of news coming out of Palm this week. And to the casual observer, a Thursday closing price for Palm’s stock of merely $8.50 had to have been a shock since all week the company had been on a steady rise into the $19 range. What gives?

Alas, that news of the Elevation Partners deal closing had a lot to do with it. As noted by Marketwatch, “The previous day's closing price of $19.18 was adjusted to reflect the $9 cash payout under the re-capitalization.” So that was one adjustment. Then a couple of analyst firms decided to tag Palm with a downgrade. For example, Andrew Neff from Bear Stearns cut its rating on the stock to underperform, or sell, from a neutral rating. In a note to clients, Neff indicated that “…While the completion of its recapitalization yesterday...creates optimism regarding potential revamp of its products and improvements in execution, Palm continues to face several challenges in the near term," wrote Neff. That’s something that anyone following Palm would agree upon. There continues to be an incredible amount of activity in the smartphone space. And Palm isn’t the only company facing challenges. Even though Apple, at the beginning of the week, announced earnings numbers topping expectations, The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg noted:

“The iPhone, which is already very good, will likely get better, as it is just at the beginning of its life. It has raised the bar for other smart-phone makers, such as Palm, especially when it comes to software. But I expect other companies to match at least some of the iPhone’s features and style, which means Apple will have to hustle to keep its lead… …the cellphone business is full of companies with more imagination than the typical PC maker and more resources than many makers of portable music players, so the challenge for Apple will be greater.”

No doubt, these are interesting times in the smartphone world. It sort of makes me feel that a “Top Chef” type of competition is in order (complete with “quick fire” challenges and “elimination challenges). But I digress. So, without further ado, Let’s Talk Treo (and Centro)!

Palm News

Palm's New GPS Navigator Pairs Palm Smartphones with Garmin Software Providing Users with Award-Winning Navigation in the Car and on Foot

On Tuesday, Palm and Garmin International, Inc. announced a Palm GPS Navigator featuring Garmin Mobile XT software for the first time. Drivers using the new GPS Navigator with their Palm smartphones can rely on turn-by-turn, voice-prompted directions to easily find their destinations as well as millions of points of interest, updated traffic, fuel prices, hotel prices and weather forecasts. Expected in late November, the Palm GPS Navigator featuring Garmin software will be $249 USD.

TreoCentral’s story appears here.

Palm Announces Compatibility with Microsoft System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008 Coming for Treo 750 Smartphones

Also on Tuesday, Palm, announced that it will make the Treo 750 compatible with Microsoft System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008, delivering increased security and easier phone management, as well as access to information on the corporate network. IT professionals will be able to confidently manage large Treo 750 deployments with features such as policy enforcement, inventory and reporting, and software targeting. Mobile Device Manager is a comprehensive management solution that enables efficient control of Windows Mobile phones, such as the Treo 750 smartphone, by providing reliable, low-cost consistent manageability within a company's existing Microsoft infrastructure. The Treo 750 will support Mobile Device Manager through an update starting in the second half of calendar 2008.

TreoCentral’s story appears here. Also, TreoCentral’s Dieter Bohn and Mike Overbo had a chance to talk to Joe Fabris, the senior director for Wireless Solutions at Palm , where they found out more about the Palm/Microsoft relationship. In essence, it is a “win-win” for both companies. They noted:

“The real story here, however, seems to be the benefits that Palm has gained by partnering with Microsoft without becoming "just a Windows Mobile shop." There are a lot of benefits to this strategy, but really the most important one is just getting a foot in the door - there are a lot of companies out there that flat-out won't talk to any smartphone maker if they're not carrying Windows Mobile products.”

Microsoft apparently gains by having a device that employees would want to use – the Treo 750.

Palm OS II Officially Bumped Back to 2009

Ed Hardy at Brighthand reported, Palm's new chairman, Jon Rubinstein, has admitted to telling Dow Jones Newswires that his company is 18 months away from introducing smartphones running a new Linux-based operating system. This adds another six months or so to the previously anticipated date.

Treo 750 in Ecuador

This week, Treo announced the availability of the Treo 750 in Ecuador, the first Windows Mobile based Treo smartphone to take advantage of PORTA's network. The Treo 750 offers the world-class Palm experience on Microsoft's Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system. PORTA, the leading cellular telephone company with almost 6 million users and nationwide coverage, has been operating in Ecuador since 1993.

And the Winners are...

Palm’s blog had quite a few entries this week. Make sure you go check out the results of the Treo Mobile Comedy Film Festival.

Talkin Treo 500v

The Age - David Flynn

“…The Treo 500v, however, beats the BlackBerry for most personal users and the home-office set.
The reason for our controversial call? The BlackBerry is still king for business email on the move but the Treo 500v delivers a better overall experience for personal and web-based email, alongside a handful of other "social" features such as instant messaging and a shared online calendar.”

Talkin’ Centro

Now let’s take a look at who’s talkin’ Centro this week.

The Gadgeteer – Julie

“If the Centro was available in a GSM version, I'd gladly trade my 680 for it. I like the size a lot and find it to be just as snappy as the 680 and equal in all other aspects of operation. The Centro is basically the same phone as the 680, only for Sprint. If you're a fan of Palm OS devices and a Sprint customer looking to purchase your first smartphone, I think the Palm Centro is a great buy.”

PalmInfocenter - Ryan Kairer

“For longtime Palm fans, you can't hide the fact that the Centro is yet another rehash of the Treo 600 design that Palm acquired in the Handspring purchase back in 2003. Be that as it may, this time around Palm has made some reductions in size and weight that add up to an overall leaner, more pocket friendly mobile device. The Palm OS is certainly long overdue for a new graphical look and complete overhaul, yet it still remains competitive due to its ease of use and wide range of third party software solutions… …By no means is the Centro perfect device but the smaller size and updated software bundle combined with the low price provide a decent value for a capable smartphone.”

PDA Street - Troy Dreier

“With its handy new shape and bargain price ($99, with commitment and discounts from Sprint), the Centro is just the thing that Palm needs to stay competitive in the fast-changing mobile phone market. It's a pleasure to use and it can do a wide variety of tasks. If you're thinking about purchasing an iPhone, be sure you know what the Centro can do first. It performs most of the functions people want at a price that won't break your bank account.”

Recent TreoCentral Guides, Reviews & More

Review: Gx5’s UltimatePhone - By Harv Laser

Harv set out to see if Gx5’s UltimatePhone (UP), a new interface that both ties all of your messaging utilities together and gives you easy to recognize icons and photos for managing or dialing your plethora of contacts, was really everything it claimed to be:

“…if you are looking for a way to spice up your phone app, if you can live with its somewhat quirky nature, it most definitely does the job as advertised.
“The major downside to UP is that not only must it reside in your Treo's limited internal memory, but also it is a whopping 1.5MB in size, roughly five percent of the full memory available for you to use on a 650, or half that on a 700p. Its add-ons (icons) also reside in internal memory, furthering the degradation of usable workspace.”

Review Follow-up: VoicePlayIt - By Jay Gross

Jay did a follow-up on an earlier review of VoicePlayIt, a program that lets you verbally navigate through your Treo’s music playlist (no tapping or clicking required). Per the company’s website, VoicePlayIt is “the FIRST and ONLY voice command and control software for Pocket Tunes.” Jay wrote:

“It’s great to see new versions of Palm OS programs add features and improve the users’ experience. VoicePlayIt’s new version 1.1 does just that, adding the Quick Start option to work much more seamlessly with Pocket Tunes. With a good wired headset, it’s a solid, robust technology that does its thing reliably. If you want it to honor Bluetooth wireless headsets, talk to Palm. Best of all, the update is free if you already own the program, and you can’t beat that for support. This isn’t a review, so there are no ratings, pros, and cons. I previously gave VoicePlayIt three stars overall, but considering version 1.1’s new features, and for addressing the shortcomings that I whined about, add one more star to that rating.”

Clue: Treo Software Roundup - By Jennifer Chappell

This time, Jennifer found nearly 30 programs to talk about (split between Palm OS and Windows Mobile). Some highlights include: Advanced brain Trainer, Astraware Boardgames, Fried Chicken, Jet Ducks, Keylight Basic, Mobile Dates, Power Hero, The Final Battle, Matching Hearts, QuickTake, Softick Audio Gateway, Sudoku CLASSIC, TreoMemo, CrazySoft Croker, FunContact, Line Rider Mobile, Loan express, McCalc, Mysticacl Ninja, Spb Pocket Plus, UNO Classic and VITO AudioNotes.

CTIA News…

A few weeks ago, I pointed out the level of activity ratcheting up due to the CTIA IT and Entertainment show scheduled for October 23-25. Quite a bit of news did happen this week, some of which I’ll touch upon below. For a nice roundup of what took place, check out the write-up provided by Dieter Bohn and Mike Overbo.

CTIA Reports Industry Stats

Mobile Phone Blog has listed some interesting statistics reported by CTIA:

  • As of June 2007 the U.S. wireless consumer market surpassed the 243 million-subscriber mark, representing roughly 81% of the overall national population.
  • U.S. subscribers now send an average of 1 billion text messages every day, transmitting 28.8 billion messages in June alone.
  • Wireless customers used more than 1.1 trillion voice minutes in the first half of this year, up 18% year-on-year.

CTIA News: FunMobility Announces aFLIX - The Mobile Industry's First On Deck Interactive User-Generated Video Sharing Service

On Tuesday, FunMobility formally announced the recent launch of America's Best Mobile Flix (aFLIX) - the first interactive video sharing service and mobile social network. aFLIX runs best on a wireless broadband network creating an interactive mobile social networking experience and a powerful distribution channel for customers. The FunMobility aFLIX service will run alongside its existing America's Best Mobile Pix application (aPix), FunMobility's popular photo sharing service that generates over 20 million mobile impression votes per month. aFLIX continues to launch on numerous carriers this month and pricing is in the $4.99 per month range.

CTIA News: MobiTV Tops Three Million Subscriptions

On Monday, MobiTV, the leader in mobile and broadband entertainment services, announced the company has surpassed three million subscriptions for its services worldwide --adding one million in six short months.

CTIA News: MobiTV Enters Long-Term Agreement with Sprint

MobiTV also announced that it has entered into a multi-year agreement to offer Sprint customers the best mobile television and video experience. As part of the agreement, Sprint and MobiTV will continue to work together to advance and extend the successful Sprint TV®, Sprint TV Xtra, and Sprint TV en Vivo® services to customers throughout the U.S. Some of the benefits to the Sprint TV service, include:

  • A new interface that is even easier to use for all Sprint TV services powered by MobiTV including; Sprint TV, Sprint TV Xtra (formerly Sprint TV Live), Sprint TV en Vivo and Pivot
  • Significant video quality enhancements and more support for full screen viewing
  • Increased channel change speeds
    • Related Story: An Interview with Jack Hallahan

      There was an interesting interview with Jack Hallahan, vice president of advertising and brand partnerships at MobiTV posted at eMarketer.com. He provides comments on who’s watching mobile TV, what they are watching and talks about how advertising works on this platform.

CTIA News: Verizon Wireless to Offer Minisode Network on V CAST

On Tuesday, Verizon Wireless announced they have formed a relationship with Sony Pictures Television and will offer The Minisode Network on V CAST. The channel – offering four to six minute versions of the studio’s classic television shows – allows customers with V CAST-enabled phones to watch the minisodes in the palms of their hands. The shows offered as minisodes include, “Diff’rent Strokes,” “Facts of Life,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “The Jeffersons,” “Bewitched,” “Fantasy Island,” and other familiar favorites from the Sony Pictures Television library. The Minisode Network originally launched in June 2007 on MySpace and quickly took off online, amassing over 3.25 million views in its first four months in existence on www.myspace.com/minisodenetwork. Bite-sized entertainment, the minisodes retain the full-story arc of each episode offered, revitalizing these brands and making them perfect entertainment snacks for online consumption.

CTIA News: AOL’s Mobile Strategy

Fierce Moblie Content reported AOL has introduced a new mobile web portal for WAP-enabled phones, which the company says will offer users a better experience. The portal, http:aol.com, brings together several AOL products, including AIM, AOL Mail, AOL Search, MapQuest, AOL CityGuide, Moviefone and Winamp. According to Scott Falconer, executive vice president of AOL Mobile, who spoke with FierceMobileContent prior to the CTIA show, this new WAP portal is extremely robust, and offers expanded shopping, music, news and entertainment.

Elsewhere in the World of Treo…

Review: Samsung WEP 500 Bluetooth Headset

Andrew over at Treonauts checked out the tiny Samsung WEP 500 Bluetooth headset that is “Barely thicker than four stacked quarters (not including earpiece).” He noted that its performance was still excellent even though it is so tiny.

“…if your primary need is for an ultrasmall and ultralight headset that delivers great call quality then currently my recommendation would be to go with this Samsung WEP 500 as it offers an excellent overall solution.”

Please read his complete review to see what he recommends if ultrasmall/ultralight aren’t a requirement.

Review: The OtterBox 1921

Tam Hanna was excited to find out that there was an OtterBox weatherproof case crafted specially for the 680/750/755p, so he gave it a tryout.

“Overall, the OtterBox 1921 transforms your Treo 680/750/755p into a device that gets close to the Meazura (aka big blue tank) in terms of ruggedness…if the manufacturer would manage to certify the waterproofness. As it is now, the 1921 still is a good buy for everyone who’s Treo needs the extra protection.”

Review: Resco Neeews on your Palm Treo

Diana McDonough at MyTreo.net reviewed Resco Neews, an application that allows you to quickly and easily centralize all your RSS Feeds, Blogs and PODCasts. Resco Neeews organizes those together in what it calls Newspapers. Neeews comes with several Newspapers already set up.

“Overall, I was pleased with the simplicity of the application. If you are a big RSS Feed follower, this application is definitely worth looking into.”

Review: wmRingToneMaker for Windows Mobile

Judie at Gear Diary tried out Gx5’s wmRingToneMaker, a desktop application that lets you make your own ringtones from the .MP3 files in music library.

“If you are tired of the tinkly ringtones that come on our WM phones, and you want to hear ringtones made from your favorite music - without having to repurchase music you already own as a ringtone, then you will want to check out wmRingToneMaker. It supports .mp3, .ogg, and .wav files, and it will work on any PC.”

Review: Astraware Boardgames

Alan Grassi at 1SRC played around with Astraware’s Boardgames.

“Astraware Boardgames is a must have for any handheld or smartphone owners who have kids or is just a big kid inside. My girls love playing Tic Tac Toe and Snakes & Ladders; which is great because it really comes in handy when I need to keep them occupied while we are out and about. If you enjoy playing board games, Astraware Boardgames captures the spirit of the classic tabletop games.”

News/Opinion: Dashwire Mirrors your Mobile Phone Content to the Web

Matthew Miller, the Mobile Gadgeteer, wrote about Dashwire which is a service that mirrors the content on your mobile phone to a personal Web account.

“I personally was quite excited about the service because I see it as a great way to manage my photos taken with my devices, stay in touch with people via SMS when I am at work and on my desktop PC, quickly update and manage my internet bookmarks/favorites, and enter contacts with a full keyboard right from my PC. At this time, Dashwire mirrors your photos, videos, text messages, bookmarks (Internet Explorer Mobile only), contacts, and phone calls. The great thing about Dashwire is that it is a Web 2.0 service and thus they can roll out updates and new features on the server at any time and they do have lots of great features planned for the future.”

Opinion: Mossberg Speaks Out for Mobile Rights

The Wall Street Journal ran a special Technology section on Monday. An opinion piece written by Walt Mossberg, caught my eye. Basically, he compared how cellphone carriers treat their customers and noted that we deserve better:

“We need a wireless mobile device ecosystem that mirrors the PC/Internet ecosystem, one where the consumers' purchase of network capacity is separate from their purchase of the hardware and software they use on that network. It will take government action, or some disruptive technology or business innovation, to get us there.”
“Whether you are a consumer, a hardware maker, a software developer or a provider of cool new services, it's hard to make a move in the American cellphone world without the permission of the companies that own the pipes. While power in other technology sectors flows to consumers and nimble entrepreneurs, in the cellphone arena it remains squarely in the hands of the giant carriers.”

Check out his video at the link noted above. He’s right. But is anyone listening?

Clue: Streamlining Your Voicemail

Jamie Lendino at Smart Device Central has written a piece describing how you can send all voicemail messages from all your phones to one e-mail box that you can access from anywhere.

Clue/Fire-Related News: Kinoma Saves the Day

If you’ve read Harv Laser’s reviews of the Kinoma Player, you probably already know that it is a pretty remarkable application. Here’s another reason to love it. Check out this post that appeared on Kinoma’s blog:

“This morning I realized that I couldn’t find the transistor radio that we bought expressly for such emergencies. Thankfully Kinoma Player is working like a champ, and I’m now glued to my local public radio station’s live Windows Media stream. The lesson? Kinoma Player probably won’t save your life..but you never know!”

Clue/Fire-Related: Donate to Red Cross with Text 2Help Program

Wondering how you can help those in need because of the wildfires in Southern California? Here’s an idea.

“The wildfires in southern California have caused tragic loss of life, serious injuries, and enormous damage, and now Americans wanting to lend a hand to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund can do that through Text 2HELP™,” said Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association and President of The Wireless Foundation, the charitable organization coordinating Text 2HELP™. “Through a simple text message, Americans can send a donation to the American Red Cross that will be put to good use in providing those in need with invaluable support during their time of crisis.”

Wireless carriers participating in Text 2HELP™ include AT&T Mobility, Alltel, Boost Mobile, Dobson Communications Corporation, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. VeriSign is powering the intelligent messaging infrastructure to enable the short message service.

Endnotes & Ponderables:

The Major League Baseball (MLB) World Series started on Wednesday night and Taco Bell is running a promotion called “Steal a Base, Steal a Taco," which will run through the best-of-seven match-up. The company is offering a free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco to “America” if a base is stolen during the World Series.

On Thursday night, in the 4th inning, Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury (#46) stole second base. Per the rules posted on the MLB website:

“If an eligible base was stolen during the Games, Taco Bell will make an announcement through selected media channels, including a press release and its web site (www.tacobell.com), that eligible consumers can obtain their free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco on Tuesday, October 30, 2007 (if base is stolen in Games 1 or 2 on October 24 or October 25, 2007)…”

Apparently, you just have to show up at the designated time (no “stealing” involved). It’s an interesting idea and it’ll be even more interesting to see how busy Taco Bell is next Tuesday.

That’s a wrap!

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