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Talkin' Treo - v020108

Fri Feb 1, 2008 - 11:22 AM EST - By Annie Latham

Week ending 1 February 2008

Strange things are happening in the world of smartphones… I wonder if Palm is paying attention. Just like in the ABC television series, LOST, where there are visual and audio clues before the mystery abominable island snowman hits (i.e. rustling in the woods, black smoke and that music that lets the audience know something bad is about to happen), there’s been a lot of rumblings this week from the likes of Garmin, Dell and Motorola.

Garmin, the nation's leading maker of satellite-powered navigational devices, is getting into the wireless phone business with a hybrid device. The nuvifone, which Garmin unveiled this week, combines a cell phone, a Web browser, and GPS. Its slim form factor, 3.5-inch touch screen, and on-screen keypad resemble another device that took the mobile market by storm last year: the iPhone. Garmin's president and COO, Cliff Pemble stated:

"This is the breakthrough product that cell phone and GPS users around the world have been longing for -- a single device that does it all.”

And word has it that Dell and Google are teaming up to try to topple the iPhone with an Android-based hybrid due to make an appearance at the 3GSM World Conference in Barcelona next month.

Meanwhile, over in Schaumburg, it seems that Motorola is pondering spinning off their mobile phone business. In a press release, CEO Greg Brown stated, “We are exploring ways in which our mobile devices business can accelerate its recovery and attract talent while enabling our shareholders to realize the value of this great franchise.” There was also news this week that “bolstered by the success of its Q series, Motorola now has a slight lead in the world market for Windows Mobile smartphones without touchscreens.” That could help them if, indeed, the users decide they don’t want a touchscreen. But based on the number of handset makers trying to emulate the iPhone, I doubt that’s the case.

Yeah, there’s rumbling in the jungle. And the world of Treo (and Centro) is watching through fingers covering their eyes. What are you going to do Jack (er… I mean Palm)?

Shifting gears. Without further ado, Let’s Talk Treo!

Palm News

Palm CFO Scheduled to Speak

Palm just announced that their chief financial officer, Andrew J. Brown is scheduled to present at the Thomas Weisel Partners Technology, Telecom & Internet Conference 2008 in San Francisco on Monday, Feb. 4, 2008 at 4:25 p.m. Pacific Time. The live webcast is available at http://investor.palm.com/events.cfm.

Good News: Spare Centro Battery is Now Available from Palm

Palm Infocenter’s Kris Keilhack reported the availability of a spare battery for the Centro at Palm’s store. Now before you go all crazy snoopy dancing, there’s something you should know… it’ll run you $49.99(!). I guess when you’ve got the only game in town, you can get away with charging 1/2 the amount of the actual phone.

Good News: Double Secret Hire by Palm

Palm Infocenter also reported that Palm has hired a new Senior Vice President of Product Development, taking over for the departed Mike Farese who left last September. The new SVP Mike Bell comes to Palm after a 16-year tenure at Apple, where he was vice president, CPU Software, in the Macintosh Hardware Division.

Resume Snoopy dancing… No doubt the Podfather has been influential here.--AL

Follow-up News: SHUT IT DOWN! Palm Stores Closing

TreoCentral’s Dieter Bohn has posted a story clarifying what exactly Palm is shutting down. Last week we noted that all retail outlets were closing.

Moving right along…

Recent TreoCentral Guides, Reviews & More

Review: The Neuros OSD – A Revolutionary Product - By Harv Laser

You are in for a treat… Harv has done a write-up about the new Neuros OSD, a follow on to the wildly popular Neuros Recorder 2 Plus, that he reviewed in late 2006. In brief, the OSD is a small, curvy, shiny black plastic widget (about the size of a man's wallet) that lets you records and playback high quality, DRM-free MPEG-4 videos.

“I think the OSD is a device with almost unlimited potential and possibilities. Frequent firmware updates mean this is a reality, not a pipe dream. Once you learn how to use it, you'll WANT to use it and show it off. As cool as the NR2P was, with the OSD, Neuros really hit one out of the ballpark.”

Review: Palm Ultralight Wireless Bluetooth Headset - By Jay Gross

Jay tried out the newest edition of wireless Bluetooth headsets to be offered (branded**) by Palm. It comes in an attractive, felt-lined case which includes three soft gel ear tips, an ear loop, a charging sleeve and a portable AAA battery powered charger.

“There is an enormous amount of competition in headsets, each manufacturer trying to outdo the other in pursuit of that elusive rainbow, market share. In the case of the Ultralight Blutooth Headset, Palm could have done with a little more emphasis on sound quality and talk time, although they’ve done a really great job on looks, packaging, and pizzazz.”

** The Ultralight is a repackaged Plantronics 645 Bluetooth headset.

Clue: Keeping Your Centro Cute - By Annie Latham

It was my turn to get into the act. I had the chance to check out two new cases from Seidio: the Seidio Super Slim Hybrid Case and the Seidio Super Slim Crystal Case. You’ll find that I enjoyed the process – including letting my encased Centro tumble head over heels down my carpeted staircase.

“…Circling back around to the Seidio Super Slim Hybrid Case and the Seidio Super Slim Crystal Case, they both serve a similar function to my running tights… offering an additional layer of protection. Plus they both feel good to the touch… so good that I hardly noticed that my Centro even had a layer of protection. As far as I’m concerned, both of these get two big thumbs up.”

Clue: Migrating From a 700p to a 755p - By Harv Laser

Whether you like it or not, sooner or later you will be faced with the prospects of moving from one Treo to another. So what’s it like going from the very traditional-looking, Treo 700p to the “new fangled,” antenna-less Treo 755p? TreoCentral’s Harv Laser steps you through the trials and tribulations of the migration process, and offers some helpful tips.

“There’s more to this story, but I think you get the idea. The 755p is NOT just a slightly smaller 700p with the antenna lopped off. If your 700p goes nuts, like one of mine did, and you’re forced into replacing it with a 755p, unless you want to carry it around naked with its stock battery and no external Storage, you’d better set aside some cash because at the very least, you’re going to need:
  • a new case, if you like hard, form-fitting cases
  • a miniSD card and possibly a card reader that can take them
  • a new “extended” battery specifically designed for the 755, unless you’re happy with the (smaller) stock battery

Clue: Treo Software Roundup - By Jennifer Chappell

Some of the interesting new software releases that Jennifer talked about included: HandGo, PhoneFavs, Resco IDGuard, Warn, Arcades'n'Beauties, Solve the Case: Hollywood and Virtual CE. As for updates, some of note include: BackUp Pro, Kinoma Player EX 4.41, Mobiola Video Studio Pro, NeatFreak Pack Ultimate, CorePlayer Mobile For PocketPC, iSS Reversi and Ringo Mobile.

Talkin’ TreoCast

The boys are back in town… In this episode, the hosts discuss the recently concluded Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and rumors, rumors, rumors.

Elsewhere in the World of Treo…

Review: SPE Centro TopPouch Case

Andrew over at Treonauts checked out the TopPouch Case by Smartphone Experts for the Centro. He liked the design and specifically, that even though the TopPouch benefits from a nice thick internal padding, the case still manages to deliver a very slim profile adding only one or two millimeters at the front and back.

“The Centro TopPouch just looks great – it’s elegant, displays a very clean high quality leather front, offers easy access to your smartphone and thanks to its strong belt clip and magnetic flap ensures that it’s always securely by your side.”

Note: If you are in the market for a Bluetooth headset, make sure you check out this story posted by Andrew on the top Bluetooth headsets for the Treo and Centro.


The technology industry's elite DEMO conference took place this week, kicking off with a state-of-the-industry address given by Chris Shipley, emerging technology analyst and DEMO executive producer. Now in its 18th year, the semi-annual DEMO conferences are launch pad events for the newest and best products in digital technology. This year's DEMO product debuts included everything from a portable, learn-to-read system for children to advanced online collaboration tools for distributed work teams. Here are some notable mobile-related launches that happened at DEMO.

DEMO News: CellSpin Launches First User-Friendly, Mobile Application to Seamlessly Create and Post Audio, Videos, Pictures and Text to Users' Favorite Web Sites

CellSpin (www.cellspin.net) lets users create content (video, audio, photos and text) on their mobile phone or via the CellSpin Web site, and then post it to their favorite social networks and content-sharing Web sites using an intuitive, single-click interface. CellSpin currently supports sharing media with Facebook, Blogger, YouTube, Picasa, Flickr, Live Journal, Live Spaces and eBay, with more to come. The company claimed is the first and only application enabling smartphone users to create and post audio and videos to their eBay auctions.

How it works: On their smartphone, users select which of four media types they wish to create from a simple on-screen interface. Then with one click, users upload their content to their favorite social networks and content-sharing Web sites, to share candid life moments with family and friends anywhere in the world.

DEMO News: Zodiac Interactive Announces Zodigo

Zodiac Interactive a multiple Emmy-nominated and Emmy award-winning developer of software for interactive television, has just launched a new mobile content search engine, Zodigo. Much like a Movies-On-Demand service from cable operators, Zodigo is navigated either by remote control or by keyboard and mouse and includes revolutionary features that make it easy for consumers to discover and download mobile content instantly to their mobile phones. Zodigo is an intelligent system that quickly and automatically learns about users’ preferences, as well as their exact mobile phone type, and recommends only content that works for that phone.

DEMO News: Skyfire Unveils Downloadable Mobile Browser that Delivers the PC Web Experience on Your Phone

At the DEMO 08 conference this week, Skyfire unveiled a new mobile browser that makes browsing on a smartphone just like browsing on a PC. Per their press release, for the first time ever, smartphone users can experience the "real Web" to access and interact with any Web site built with any Web technology, including dynamic Flash, advanced Ajax, Java and more - at the same speeds they are accustomed to on their PC.

“Skyfire’s ability to support Flash video can give a shot in the arm to consumption of video on smartphones which currently stands at 18.4 percent,” said Seamus McAteer, senior analyst, M:Metrics. “Technologies that improve the user experience of mobile applications will bolster the adoption of mobile media as it becomes increasingly mainstream.”

Skyfire announced a private beta to support Windows Mobile phones, both touchscreen and non-touchscreen, in the U.S. Users can sign-up for the private beta by visiting www.skyfire.com.

DEMO News: Rove Launches PCMobilizr at DEMO 08

Rove Mobile Inc., the world's leading provider of enterprise software for handhelds, today launched PCMobilizr , a new mobile technology that enables business professionals and consumers to have instant, complete access to every file and application on their home or office computer at all times. With PCMobilizr, users can remotely and securely access their PC desktop from their mobile device, display the computer's screen and control the keyboard and mouse -- as if they are right in front of their computer.

PCMobilizr, which supports both BlackBerry smartphones and Windows Mobile devices, is available immediately through a monthly subscription rate of $9.50. For more information and to download a free 30 day trial, visit www.pcmobilizr.com.

DEMO News: LegiTime Technologies Launches Professional Smartphone Messaging Service

At the DEMO 08 conference, LegiTime Technologies debuted its professional message management service - LegiText(TM), which enables smartphone users to mirror the PC experience in a mobile world through prioritized inboxes, group messaging features, and administrative functionality. Designed specifically for the mobile pro-sumer, LegiText addresses the challenges of traditional smartphone solutions: overflowing inboxes, the need to collaborate with groups in a mobile environment, and the convergence of personal and professional communications on a single device. LegiText Personal Edition is available now at no charge, and subscribers can sign up online at www.legitext.com. The full-featured Enterprise Edition of LegiText will be available by the end of Q1 and will include additional administrative and server-based features for enterprise integration.

NFC* News: In-Stat Says Cellphone Banking First Step toward Mobile Wallet

According to market research firm, In-Stat, the US seems to be moving closer to a goal of using mobile handsets to accomplish financial transactions and make purchases as several competing market players align on both technology and objectives. Although 2008 will not be “the year of mobile payments” in the US, some progress is likely, the high-tech market research firm says.

“There is evidence that the US market may overcome a crucial issue—technology incompatibility—and make progress during 2008 toward contactless payments using cellphones,” says David Chamberlain, In-Stat analyst. “Companies in several different sectors all ultimately want to deploy near field communications (NFC), the key enabling technology, into handsets as well as in merchant payment terminals.”

NFC* News: BART Tries Pay-by-Phone System

On Tuesday, the SF Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) became the first transit agency in the country to test a system-wide cell phone payment program that allows riders to pass through the gates with a wave of their handset. The $200,000 pilot project, which will be tested by about 230 riders for the next four months, utilizes a wireless chip that lets people pay by passing their phone over a wireless reader. BART has been using the contact-free technology in its EZ Rider pilot program, which allows riders to pay at the turnstiles by waving a plastic card that has a wireless chip. Participants will be using Sprint and Boost mobile phones that have been outfitted with the chip. As with the EZ Rider program, which began a year and a half ago, users can load up to $48 on the chip from a credit or debit card account by visiting BART's Web site.

*Near Field Communications:

News: It’s Alive?! Sprint and Clearwater Talking WiMax

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Sprint has revived serious discussions with WiMax start-up Clearwire Corp. to form a joint venture that would bring in outside funding from the likes of Google, Intel and Best Buy. The plan could dramatically lower the price tag of Sprint's WiMax project and allow new CEO, Dan Hesse to focus on fixing the company's core cellphone business -- addressing two concerns Sprint investors have had.

The full WSJ story can be found here (subscription required).

News: Pinger Launches Mobile Instant Voice Messaging Service

This week, Pinger launched its worldwide instant voice messaging service that lets anyone with a mobile phone send voice messages directly to more than 20 countries for the cost of a local call. Pinger provides a rich and economical alternative to international text messages because people can use the personality of their voices to send messages up to five minutes long, without incurring carriers' long-distance calling fees.

“Pinger is different from voicemail. Voicemail is a dead end-a failure when one person tries to talk to another and is forced to leave a message. Pinger is intentional voice messaging. It enables people to express themselves using their voices and is perfect for those occasions when one doesn't have time to converse. It's more fun too because people can reply back and forth like texting. With Pinger, senders don't have to worry about time zones or phone carriers, as long as the recipient can receive text messages on their mobile, they can receive a Pinger message.”

News: NY Times Starts Texting the News…

According to this post at MocoNews, readers of the New York Times are now able to get news stories sent to them as a text message. The plans have been in the works since last fall, when the Times mobilized its real estate listings.

By sending a text message with the appropriate keyword to 698698 (NYTNYT), users can receive the latest three articles from that given section or the most recent column from their favorite opinion, business, environmental, entertainment, health, metro, national, political, sports or technology columnist. Articles can be displayed on any type of cell phone or PDA. The text service is free to use, although standard carrier charges may apply.

News: Cut Us Better Deals Says NBC’s Zucker

At at the World Economic Forum in Davos, NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker challenged the mobile phone industry to cut entertainment companies better deals for providing content to handsets. He complained that carriers award just "10 percent of the economics to the content companies," providing little incentive for NBC Universal to pay much attention to the well-hyped mobile media opportunity.

Zucker was speaking alongside Sony CEO Howard Stringer, FCC chairman Kevin Martin, Google CEO Eric Schmidt and others.

Drawing on an example set by the music industry—and addressing Zucker's concerns—Stringer said, "It won't be easy to hang onto the price of content."

In fact, those who cling to the axiom that content is king are wrong. "The customer is king," he said. "When you defend the status quo when the quo has lost its status, you're in trouble," Stringer added.

Related News: Down on Mobile? Not!

Don’t misinterpret the previous story… NBC believes in the mobile platform, just not the business model. This week, NBC.com announced its full roster of mobile, or WAP (Wireless Application Protocol), sites. With nearly forty WAP and three mobile video channels, NBC Digital Entertainment boasts more than any other broadcast network. The announcement was made by Vivi Zigler, Executive Vice President, NBC Digital Entertainment.

Clue: Deciphering Text Messages

PDA Street has linked to a helpful site that provides the definitions to more 500 frequently used text chat abbreviations.

Super Bowl for Sprint Users – Centro Owners Gather Around!

Sprint has gone all out again for Sunday’s big game (Patriots vs. Giants). They have a special mobile website for Super Bowl XLII that features information on Super Bowl events and attractions, including game analysis and opinion, a list of things to do in the Phoenix area (the site of the big game) and access to concert information, ringtones and screen savers.

Furthermore, Sprint's NFL Mobile channel will also feature Super Bowl XLII news and information, Super Bowl archive video highlights, a daily blog starring NFL Network reporter Adam Schefter, and a live, uninterrupted NFL Network stream televising each official Super Bowl XLII press conference as it happens.

Sprint spent more than $28 million to upgrade its Arizona wireless and wireline networks to accommodate the increased amount of voice and data traffic for this week (and weekend).

For more information, check out: www.sprint.com/superbowl

Endnotes & Ponderables:

In a story appearing this week, MSNBC’s Athima Chansanchai pondered: What does your cell phone say about you?

She got a little help from Avi Greengart, New Jersey-based research director of mobile devices for Current Analysis. Here are some comments:

BlackBerry: “…the best solution for staying constantly connected to corporate e-mail systems.”
Treo: “There's no single Treo user, but Treo users tend to be more organization-minded than, say, iPhone or Sidekick buyers.”
Sidekick: “… are built around instant messaging, and which demographics are completely addicted to IM? Teens and young adults.”
iPhone: “The iPhone is definitely tilted toward entertainment, and it is sought out by consumers seeking the best integration of music and other iTunes content.”

The story mentions the Centro… but in the context that it is “targeted at a younger audience with the smaller size, multimedia and messaging options.” I guess it is the Scion and the Treo is the Toyota.

That’s a ponderable. And… That’s a wrap!

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