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Talkin' Treo - v012508

Fri Jan 25, 2008 - 10:46 AM EST - By Annie Latham

Week ending 25 January 2008

I’m confused. If you’ve been following the news you know Palm is in a world of hurt. While the Centro has gotten the smartphone into a lot more hands at the affordable price point of $99, it has also messed up the margin mix for the company (as noted in their most recent earnings announcement).

So why the heck is Radio Shack showing it for $79 in their Sunday circular? Better yet, why is Palm letting Radio Shack show an advertised price that low? To me, this just ratchets pricing expectations lower. What goes down, won’t necessarily go back up.

Unless Colligan, Hawkins and the Podfather have an ace up their sleeve, I don’t get this at all.

I’m sure you saw the story last week about how pricing impacts the perception of wine drinkers. In brief, scientists found that the part of the brain that responds to pleasure reacted more strongly to more costly wines - - even when the presumed pricey wine and the cheap wine were actually one and the same. Humm…

I read another story about a clothing store that had buttoned down shirts that weren’t moving at $25. So the store manager asked the employee to change the price… up! And the shirts sold.

Yes, I know what works for beverages and apparel doesn’t necessarily correlate to electronics… where down means down. But still, it’s worth pondering. A $79 Centro is feeling a lot like a Motorola Razr. And we know how that story has played out. Oh well. Time to move on…

So without further ado, Let’s Talk Treo!

Palm News


“Shut it down!” is a catch phrase more closely associated with Chef Ramsey of television’s “Hell’s Kitchen.” But now, it can be tied to Palm, as the company appears to be following the Gateway cost reduction plan, which calls for shutting down the retail outlets. According to this post (a TreoCentral Exclusive), even the flagship store in Manhattan’s Rockefeller Center, mentioned in this column in December, is closing.

A Palm spokesperson stated:

“We continue to focus our company around core business initiatives and are consolidating more resources behind fewer programs in order to compete most effectively and build world-class, category-defining mobile solutions. We have therefore made the decision to close our retail stores."

It was just last week that Sprint announced they were shutting down some stores (“eliminate more than 4,000 sales outlets within retailers”) and doing a layoff.

Palm Housekeeping Continues… Lawsuit for Treo 600, 650 Settled

In another indication that Palm is cleaning house, an email has been pushed to owners of the Treo 600 and Treo 650 saying a class action lawsuit for excessive repairs had been settled. The details will make your eyeballs roll backwards. Check out the link above where Jennifer takes a stab at explaining all the legalese.

Recent TreoCentral Guides, Reviews & More

Review: Pocket DVD Wizard (Palm OS) - By Andre Kibbe

Coinciding with his purchase of one of Sandisk’s new 8GB microSD cards, Andre decided to check out options for viewing movies on his Centro. He ended up stumbling upon Pocket DVD Wizard, a program that helps you convert your DVDs and video files so you can watch them on your mobile device. The software rips, encodes and compresses the file to a user-specified size. The only step left for the user is manually transferring the converted file.

“Writing about Pocket DVD Wizard is a bit like describing how to tie your shoes: it sounds more complex than it really is. And it’s the lack of complexity that makes this app so useful. Videophiles can dig into the menus to optimize the quality, but the defaults are just right for a novice—or anyone seeking instant gratification.”

Review: Smartphone Experts SafeGuard Holster and Skin Case for Treo 755p, 750 - By Douglas Morse

Douglas had the chance to play around with a holster plus skin case combo offered by Smartphone Experts.

“If you’re going to get a holster anyway, this is a no brainer. For five bucks more you get a skin case. If you’re in the other scenario, ready to pull the trigger on a skin case, it is a full ten bucks more to add the holster. Admittedly this combo isn’t for everyone. I much prefer a leather case, especially one that can handle a skinned Treo. That said, this is an excellent combo which offers solid protection and very flexible use.”

Review/Clue: Advanced Brain Trainer Edition 2 - By Andre Kibbe

Last week, Andre wrote about Advanced Brain Trainer (ABT) Edition 1. He’s back this week with his take on Edition 2. Advanced Brain Trainer Edition 2 is the latest installment of In-Fusio’s game suite designed to do precisely what its title implies: sharpen mental performance through a series of exercises, in a fashion conceptually similar to Nintendo’s Brain Age.

“Both editions heavily emphasize developing one’s short-term memory at the expense of other aspects of the mind. ABT’s exclusively graphical approach doesn’t facilitate more intricate reasoning challenges that are better suited to word problems. Overall, I preferred Edition 1, which is broader in the mental faculties it trains—it had a couple of calculation modules: Speed Count and Color Algebra. Edition 2 has fewer games, especially since Shape Counter is dysfunctional. But I still enjoyed 3 of the 4 games immensely, and for the price, it’s a worthwhile addition to Edition 1.”

Clue: Centro Intro: pt 4: HotSync… What’s so Hot About it? - By Jay Gross

In part four of the “Centro Intro” series, Jay addressed the fine art of HotSyncing your Centro.

Note: When Jay wrote this, HotSync wasn’t working with Microsoft’s Vista version of Windows. As seen in the Palm Blog entry posted this week by product manager Tim P., ACCESS 6.2 for Windows Vista is now available for download. He noted Palm Desktop by Access 6.2 was designed to support the following devices on the Windows XP, Media Center Edition, and Vista platforms: Palm Centro, Treo 650, 680, 700p, 755p, Palm TX, Z22, and Tungsten E2.

Clue: MyLocation for GSM Palm Treo's 600, 650 and 680 - By Jennifer Chappell

Jennifer has written a piece about My Location for Google Maps, which she described as “a pretty good GPS'ish solution for mobile devices running Google Maps.” However, up to this point, Palm OS Treos weren’t able to run it because a ROM update was needed. Apparently, Palm OS developer Razix has released a psuedo-GPS feature for GSM Palm OS Treo's called MyLocation.

“MyLocation sounds pretty good. I think I'll put it on my Treo 680 when I have time and see how it goes for me. Thanks Razix! I know that those who own CDMA Treo's and the Centro are hoping that you'll fix them up with MyLocation for their devices soon.”

Read her full post to learn more.

Elsewhere in the World of Treo…

Review: Road Testing the Treo 500v

Jon Collins wrote extensively about his experience “road testing” the Treo 500v in his Total Immersion blog.

“In this world of iPhones and the impending Android OS from Google, there will always be plenty for the geek. I am reminded however, of colleagues, acquaintances and passing strangers I have seen man-handling eminently unsuitable, brick-like smartphones, when all they want to do is acknowledge a mail, send and SMS or simply phone someone. A Blackberry killer? No - but for such mainstream business users, who need to be able to make calls and access their corporate email simply and without a device that needs a week’s training to use, this might be just the ticket.”

Review: PC Magazine’s Take on the Treo 755p

Jamie Lendino has just written a review of the Verizon version of the Treo 755p. The ratings summary is as follows:

“The 755p is a two-year-old phone that costs the same as more capable and up-to-date smartphones. It would need a slimmer design, an updated feature set, and the revamped Linux-based Palm OS kernel in order to compete.
PRO: 3G data speeds. High-resolution touch screen. Still a great organizer and a good choice for Mac users.
CONS: Pricey. Palm OS is growing mold. No GPS, mobile TV, Wi-Fi, or stereo Bluetooth. About 1.5 ounces too heavy.

This is a fairly extensive review, so please read it in its entirety. He concludes with this:

“Writing this review makes me sad because Palm is at a crossroads. There's no word yet on a slimmer, lighter, high-end Treo replacement. Worse, the company has delayed its much-anticipated Linux-based version of Palm OS yet again, pushing its release date out into 2009 and once again leaving the ancient Garnet kernel to soldier on once more. The question is, will the company survive until 2009? This Treo 755p is unlikely to help. It's not even old wine in a new bottle—it's old wine in an old bottle.
I suppose it's a useful upgrade for older Treo owners, particularly if they don't want to switch operating systems or purge a heavy investment in third-party apps. Otherwise, Verizon customers not particularly committed to Palm OS should take a long, hard look at the BlackBerry 8830, the Verizon XV6800, and some of the newer dual-keyboard slider models like the Samsung SCH-i760 before choosing this museum piece. I'm taking the 755p's rating down a couple of ticks compared with the identical Sprint version. Even though it's the same phone (and even though I'll always have a soft spot for Palm OS), way too much time has passed without significant updates.”

Review: Windows Mobile Software – Seeing Who Calls

Kermit at GadgetNutz has written a review of a Caller ID enhancer called EnCallio from NikaFX. It is designed to give you the ability to have better screens with larger photos for your incoming and outgoing calls. Also mentioned is QDz, from Nicque Freeware, which is a Contact Manager.

“It features thumbnail icons on your contact list and can, like the built-in contact manager, use the camera on your phone to capture a new image or select from images already on your phone to attach to your contacts. You can also edit the rest of your contact data. It also is using a similar method to bypass the flawed contact picture resizing/storage used by default in Windows Mobile and stores higher resolution/quality images that work just fine with EnCallio.”

Review: Filez – Best Free App?

Sion at MyTreo.net has written about a free application: the FileZ file manager. It is a very useful program for helping you find, delete or move files on your Treo.

“The fact that FileZ has been downloaded from mytreo.net over 100 thousand times and is permanently listed in our favorite downloads area shows that it's not just me who likes it. To be honest I don't understand why Palm doesn't include FileZ or a similar program on all their Palm OS devices. If you've got a Palm OS Treo or Centro and haven't bought a file manager like Resco Explorer you really should install FileZ on your Treo.”

Review: Energizer Energi

Kevin at Brighthand looked at Energizer's Energi To Go Portable Power Outlet. He noted that this portable charger worked great for a wide range of devices with some of Energizer's estimated runtime claims being on the high side.

“In concept a very lightweight inverter with battery is a great idea. So far, in practice the offerings might need a bit of work. The Energizer Energi To Go Portable Power Outlet worked great with a handful of devices at first, but then ran into some problems with noise, compatibility problems, and had trouble turning on. Right now I am not sure if I would recommend it without knowing if some of these problems could be fixed in a later revision.”

GeekNews: New Public Beta for Lightspeed

Ryan over at Palm Infocenter posted that there’s a new public beta version of Lightspeed v3.0 --an application that lets the user change the CPU clock frequency, i.e. overclock or underclock the processor, on supported Palm OS 5 devices. This new version adds support for the latest batch of Palm smartphones including the Palm Centro, Treo 755p, 700p and the 680.

What’s the significance of this? Just remember:

  • Overclock and increase Performance!
  • Underclock and increase Battery Life!

News: AT&T Mobility Set to Join Mobile TV Space

According to this story by Matt Kapko at RCR News, it looks like AT&T Mobility is preparing to launch broadcast mobile TV service from MediaFLO USA Inc. in early February, according to sources close to the situation.

“Leaked internal documents and sources indicate that AT&T Mobility is planning to launch the service with two exclusive channels. The service, which has been available to Verizon Wireless subscribers since March 2007, currently offers eight live, linear TV channels around the clock. However, it’s long been assumed that MediaFLO would work with carriers to help differentiate their offerings and provide opportunities for exclusive content.”

AT&T Mobility originally said it would launch the service by the end of 2007, but fell behind on that deadline and pushed it to sometime this quarter.

News: YouTube Announces New and Expanded Mobile Offerings

YouTube is making its entire catalog of more than 200 million video clips available to all mobile users with 3G phones operating on either a UMTS/HSDPA or EV-DO network. Not only can users view videos, but they can also upload content immediately from their cell phone and view it on a cell phone. YouTube for Mobile (http://m.youtube.com) is seeking to provide users the ease of mobility with all of the features found on YouTube.com. YouTube for Mobile will also allow users to develop more innovative original content directly from their mobile devices and encourage new users to share and engage the community.

This was also written about by MIGUEL HELFT in the Bits section of The New York Times:

“The mobile experience will be much closer to the Web experience,” said Hunter Walk, a YouTube product manager. For now, the new site will have no impact on Google’s bottom line, as it will be free of ads. Mr. Walk said the new site is intended to get existing users of YouTube mobile to spend more time on the site and to increase the YouTube mobile audience. “We want more and more people try mobile video for the first time,” he said.”

News: Writers Strike? No Worries… Grey’s Anatomy the Mobile Game is Here

Worried that the writer’s strike will ruin your enjoyment of the ABC Studios television drama, Grey’s Anatomy? It looks like there’s a solution.

Gameloft, a leading developer and publisher of mobile games, is bringing Grey’s Anatomy: The Mobile Game to casual gamers and fans alike. Based on the first three seasons of the award-winning television drama, the game gives players and fans the chance to experience intense emotions and drama unique to their favorite show in unlimited different skill-based surgery mini-games taken from actual episodes of the show.

“Grey’s Anatomy: The Mobile Game is a perfect balance of gameplay and content, as the challenging mini-games will resonate with the male audience, while women will be engaged with the game’s unfolding drama and character interaction,” said Gonzague de Vallois, senior vice president of publishing, Gameloft. “Ultimately, we plan to create a mobile experience that melds the tension of a dramatic television show with the excitement of a social adventure.”

Grey’s Anatomy: The Mobile Game is available on most U.S. carriers. To check the game’s availability with your carrier, text “GREY” to 82174 on your mobile phone.

News: Japan Mobile Users Get Disneyfied

On Tuesday, Walt Disney Japan, the local unit of Walt Disney Co., said it would begin a new mobile telephone service, named "Disney Mobile," on March 1 together with Softbank Corp. Aimed at young working women (in their 20s and 30s.), Disney Mobile will first offer three types of mobiles made by Japan's Sharp, whose outer package is covered with silhouette patterns of Mickey Mouse.

It is entering the tough Japanese market despite the failure of Disney Mobile in the United States, another mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that shut down at the end of last year.

News: Microsoft to show Window Mobile More Love

Windows Mobile has had a solid business push for years. According to this ComputerWorld story, Microsoft is focusing efforts on boosting the appeal of Windows Mobile among consumers. To head this effort, Microsoft just announced the hiring of Todd Peters, formerly an executive with Staples, to be corporate vice president of marketing for its mobile communications business (For those of you who don’t know, he’s the “Easy Button” guy per CNET).

Microsoft also said it will help market and distribute Zumobi (mentioned in my Nov 16 column), a software program that makes it easier for Windows Mobile users to access Web sites and widgets, or small applications that provide up-to-date information from the Web.

News: Sybase iAnywhere Adds Platform Support for Window Mobile 6

Sybase iAnywhere just announced it has expanded platform support within its Information Anywhere suite. Its Web standards-based mobile enterprise application enablement component, M-Business Anywhere, now supports Symbian, Windows Mobile 6 and Windows Vista desktop and tablet platforms, in addition to Windows Mobile 5, Win32 and Palm. The company also announced its Mobile Inspection Toolkit, which is based on M-Business Anywhere, offers key new features, such as camera and GPS integration. The latest version of M-Business Anywhere is available immediately. To learn more, visit: http://www.sybase.com/products/mobileenterprise/m-businessanywhere.

News: Weather Channel Revamps Mobile Website

On Wednesday, The Weather Channel Interactive (TWCI) announced a revamped mobile Web site featuring new maps, ski information and a redesign that moves current conditions into the page header. The Weather Channel Mobile Web is one of the top five Mobile Internet Sites and averages more than six million unique users per month, making it the most popular weather resource on the mobile Web according to Nielsen Mobile. The new TWCI Mobile Web navigation, which highlights current conditions on the page header, was based on customer feedback and usage. Other content such as Pollen Forecast and Boat and Beach information have been moved to more prominent locations in the navigation so that users have direct access to these popular features. In addition, new maps have been added which offer more surface level detail on radar and satellite maps.

Clue: Adding MP3 Ringtones on Your Treo

Ryan at Palm InfoCenter pointed out new (and simple) instructions to import MP3 ringtones to your Palm OS smartphone. This is helpful since the recent Treo 680 firmware updates include a new option to use mp3 ringtones without any additional software.

Trend: Mobile Commerce & Retail

The Washington Post ran an interesting story based on what took place at the recently concluded National Retail Federation conference. It opened with this description of the store of the future:

“Walk into the store, and it sends a coupon to your cellphone for a leather recliner that complements your home entertainment system. A store employee has received a text alert that you have arrived. Need directions? Snap a photo of your surroundings with your cell, and the store will send you a map directing you to the right department.”

It isn’t surprising that retailers are rallying around the idea of making the cellphone an indispensable shopping aid. That’s been talked about for a while.

This article noted that although some Americans will bristle at the idea of another electronic missive being fired their way, research by Deloitte finds shoppers are highly intrigued by the idea of mobile commerce, even if they haven't tried it.

A recent survey by Deloitte found 61 percent of consumers were interested in a service that would allow them to scan a product's barcode in a store and receive other retailers' lower price for the same product. Fifty-seven percent said they would want to receive a coupon on their phone, and 19 percent said they would be open to receiving a video or text message about a sale from a store as they passed by.

Trend-Related News: Self-Serve Mobile Ad Product Unfurled

In a related story, Quattro Wireless has launched a new product, GetMobile, to assist advertisers and publishers in reaching audiences on mobile handsets. Depending on an advertiser's needs, the system supports landing pages, click-to-call capabilities, e-mail address collection, extended product information and coupons. Marketers can also create multiple executions for the same campaign or target video ads to capable phones.

Advertisers can place ads on sites that use GetMobile's system to convert Web content for mobile consumption. That process spiders participating sites and reformats their logos and navigation for mobile use. Publishers can then customize the converted sites using drag-and-drop features or upload new assets such as mobile-specific logos.

Silly News: GearDiary Points Out Typo

Mitch at GearDiary asked, “What’s wrong with this picture?”

For those needing a Tilt refresher, try revisiting the Smartphone Experts Round Robin. For example, here’s what CrackBerry Kevin said and phonedifferent Mike said.

Endnotes & Ponderables:

Circling back around to the $79 Centro, perhaps there is method to the madness. You probably saw the story this week about how Starbucks is testing a $1, eight-ounce "short" coffee in Seattle-area stores. Think about that… this coming from a company that is endearingly called “fourbucks.” It seems pretty clear that this is a response to the premium coffee competition coming from Mickey D’s and Dunkin' Donuts. However, the company said in a statement that the test "is not indicative of any new business strategy."

Then again, Business Week’s take was that “this is Starbucks jumping the shark

“You could have said Starbucks jumped the shark when it added drive-thrus, or launched its first national TV ad campaign. But for a chain known for its $5 cappuccinos, a $1 price promotion cuts to the quick. It smacks of McDonald's and Wendy's neon-bright dollar menus. It's probably the most off-brand move so far.”

Humm… did Palm “jump the shark” with the Centro? Now that’s a ponderable.

And… That’s a wrap!

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