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Talkin' Treo - v030708

Fri Mar 7, 2008 - 11:08 AM EST - By Annie Latham

Week ending 7 March 2008

Changes in the universe… Changes in time… Where’s Palm?

On Thursday, Apple was busy making iPhone related announcements. For example, they did indeed license Microsoft ActiveSync so the next version of iPhone software will natively support over-the-air Exchange synching. The buzz was that this puts them in direct competition with Research in Motion and Palm in the corporate space. And if Apple is going to achieve it’s goal of selling 10 million iPhones by the end of the year (giving the device roughly 1 percent of the worldwide cell phone market), putting on a suit and going corporate is “must.”

Even then, breaking into that market won’t be a dunk. In a story that appeared at Business Week’s website, Arik Hesseldahl stated:

“What's more, the iPhone still won't work for many businesses. Exchange Direct Push mail works only for companies that support Exchange 2007 or Direct Push on Exchange 2003. And Microsoft has generally struggled to popularize ActiveSync, even on its own devices, making it harder to catch other players, notably Motorola's (MOT) Good Technology unit, already gaining traction as vendors of push server software.”

Another company that is continually knocking on the corporate door is Google. This week it was announced that Google Calendar now syncs with Microsoft Outlook and Windows Mobile. Per Kevin at JK on the Run, with a small download from Google, you can now sync appointments in a one-way fashion between the two calendar instances or have a full two-synchronization. There's no setup involved: simply download and install the application, enter your Google Calendar credentials, pick one-or two-way synching and specify how often you want the data aligned.

Meanwhile, back in Sunnyvale, the silence is deafening. Palm please take note of these trends and kick it up a notch before you find yourself lapped** by your competitors.

** Anyone who has run track knows what I’m talking about here.

So without further ado, Let’s Talk Treo/Centro!

Palm News

Palm took another bye week.

Talkin’ Centro

This week some more reviews on the AT&T Centro were posted:


AWright wrote:

“Simply put, the Centro is one of the best smartphone values around. If the cost of a data plan ($30-40/month currently) isn't offputting, the Centro makes for a very nice lifestyle device. The battery life is impressive, lasting a bit over two days in normal use during my time with it. And though the keyboard might take a bit to get used to, its a good deal easier than some of the predictive text solutions for other models. For people who've used Treos before and don't do much with their devices, the Centro might prove to be a solid, and familiar, buy. It's not ground breaking except in size. Those with more powerful devices currently might be better off getting the Centro for a loved one that prefers not to feel so techie, but wants in on that smartphone fun. After all, with the amount of people who'd like a smartphone, there's room to find something good at the table for everyone.”

Everything Treo

Chris said:

“I'll be honest, I wasn't a fan of the Centro design when I was first introduced to Palm's new smart device. After spending time with the Sprint Centro, I got it. The size, functionality and pocketability is where the design of the Centro shines. This phone will just seamlessly fit into anyone's life. Colors for the most part are a personal decision. I like the colors when I purchased my xBox 360 and I continue to the like them on the Palm Centro. Those who prefer a more traditional color will have an option later this month, when AT&T will make "obsidian black" available. In a stable of silver and black, the white Palm Centro stands out and that's a good thing in a crowded field of smartphones.”

Clue: Palm Centro Free After Rebate from Amazon

On Tuesday, Ryan Kairer of Palm InfoCenter posted that Amazon.com is now offering the Palm Centro for free after rebates when purchased with a new service plan. The offer is good on both the recently announced AT&T Centro and the Black and Red versions on Sprint.

The rebates total up to $350 and include a conditional $250 discount that requires you to keep the service and keep your account in "good standing" for six months. The offer is only good for new service plan purchases.

Moving right along…

Recent TreoCentral Guides, Reviews & More

Review: DVD Catalyst 3 - By Andre Kibbe

Andre checked out an option for “ripping and compressing” DVDs into playable files on the Treo, called DVD Catalyst. Compared to Pocket DVD Wizard, which uses a “wizard-style” interface to step the user through a sequence of configuration options each time a conversion is made, Andre said that DVD Catalyst “aims to reduce, and even eliminate, the number of configuration steps by saving frequently used settings. Once the proper conditions are set, conversion may consist of nothing but inserting a DVD into the drive, and waiting for the finished output file.”

“I’m still groping for audio synch settings that keep the soundtrack in fidelity with the original DVDs. Most mobile video viewers are used to lower-than-DVD framerates, and realize that some mismatch is bound to happen. But while DC3’s video quality is noticeably better using default settings than Pocket DVD Wizard’s, the poorer AV synch definitely impacted the overall playback experience.”

Review: Farkle Dice - By Neal Martin

Neal played around with Farkle Dice, a game of chance played with dice that is similar to Yahtzee, with a few twists.

“Farkle Dice by Smart Box Design is a fairly solid rendition of the game of Farkle. It's great to be able to play such a fun game on my Treo after playing it for so long with real people and real dice. The high resolution graphics, animations, and distinct sound effects, along with the various and distinct playing habits of the computer opponents are enough to hold one's interest in the game longer than most games for the Treo I have played. Sure, there are what I perceive as small logic errors that can detract from the enjoyment of the game occasionally, but overall - I absolutely love this game!!”

Review: Brain Freeze Trivia for Palm OS - By Jennifer Chappell

Jennifer tried out a form of “Trivia Pursuit” without the pressure. Brain Freeze Trivia by Rampart Software Development “moves along at a nice, quick pace and doesn't involve moving any pieces around on a board or deciding who will ask the questions or worrying about the question cards being put back in the box so that the same questions won't be asked anytime soon.”

“Brain Freeze Trivia is a great way to pass the time. And hey, it might even be a great way to help pass the grade. It doesn't have a lot of fancy graphics but that's no deal breaker. There are some cute little pics representing the categories. There aren't any sound effects, and that can be a good thing, depending on the way you look at it. I've played some games that have extremely annoying background music and sounds. Many times, I end up just muting the sound in preferences or turning the game volume way, way down. I wouldn't have minded having a "Ding" sound for correct answers and a "Buzzer" sound for wrong answers. That would actually be cute as long as you could control the volume.”

Clue: Centro Intro Pt. 5: Music in Your Pocket - By Jay Gross

Professor Jay was back this week with the fifth installment of his “Intro to Centro” series. This time he discussed music options, including the Centro’s native Pocket Tunes app. Though he has touched on this subject before, he started over to bring the AT&T Centro newbies up to speed.

“We’ve explored software updating via the Centro’s data connection, loaded MP3 or other music onto the phone, bashed AT&T for being expensive, eyeballed Internet Radio, and played it with Pocket Tunes. We’ve delved into easy ways to get music onto a microSDHC card for use in the Centro and answered some burning questions.”

Elsewhere in the World of Treo…

Review: New Prima Cases Headset

Alli at MyTreo.net checked out two cases from Prima: the Premium Leather Open Face case and Premium Leather Lateral Holster Style case. About the Open Face case, she remarked:

“Overall, Prima has produced a beautiful and protective case at a low very low price: $22.95. Cases with a similarly high quality leather and detailed design generally cost much more. If you want protection and access to your smartphone, this is a great choice.”

Note: Last week, TreoCentral’s Jennifer reviewed the Prima Flip Style Case.

Review: Spb Mobile Shell 2.0 — Never Look At Windows Mobile The Same Way Again

Doug at Just Another Mobile Monday (JAMM) has written a review of Spb Mobile Shell, an application that dramatically improves the standard user interface on Windows Mobile devices.

“No matter how you use your device, Mobile Shell 2 is going to make it faster and more accessible. Sure, the Launcher Panel could have been better organized, and the Spb Contacts Module does not seem to fit, but these and other complaints are primarily cosmetic. The truth is that there is simply no other program available for Windows Mobile today which gives you the same kind of access, ease of use, and control over your device. Add to that, the implementation of animations, finger friendly controls, and interaction through gesture controls, and Mobile Shell 2 will quickly stand out as the single most indispensable program on your device. Once you start using it, you will never look at Windows Mobile the same way again.”

The Mobile Gadgeteer, Matthew Miller also reviewed the Spb Mobile Shell.

“I am VERY impressed with Spb Mobile Shell 2.0 and it will be the first application I load on my touch screen Windows Mobile device from now on as it lets me be more efficient and I have not noticed any slow down or negative impact on the device. If you have a touch screen device, then I highly recommend you at least give this application a try to see if it can help you out as much as it has me in just the past week.”

He has embedded a YouTube video if you’d like to see this app in action.

And there was a review by Heinz Burkart over at The Unwired.net.

“Spb Mobile Shell Version 2.0 scores mainly with a improved user interface. In my opinion the design is much better, but this is a matter of taste. But Mobile Shell 2.0 also received some worth memory consumption updates and since memory is a valuable good even in modern devices, it is nice that Spb reduced the memory consumption by about a half. Nevertheless, I have to ask the question why this was not possible in version 1.5 already?”

Review: Vehicle Manager for Palm OS

Lizzrd at MyTreo.net tried out the newly released Vehicle Manager for Palm OS by iambic, Inc. It is an automotive solution for proactively tracking and managing the vitals (mileage, maintenance, etc.) of a single car or a fleet of vehicles.

“In conclusion, I must admit my weakness for iambic applications, as I enjoy their clean, colorful user interfaces. It will take me the full trial period and/or possibly several versions, however, to fully determine whether or not to make the leap to Vehicle Manager. I do like it quite a lot, but may continue to record my info on my old standby.”

News: Dooney & Bourke Offers New Wristlets for Treo Users

This appeared on Yahoo’s website…

“Geeksugar spotted four new Dooney & Bourke wristlets that the company is selling through the online Palm store. If you like alligator print, you might enjoy the Italian leather Nile Wristlets, available in black, rouge, and wheat. These exotic cases come with a removable strap, leather snap flap closure, credit card slots, and zippered pockets for your change. They fit older Treo models like the 600, 650, and 680 as well as the new Treo 755p. All available for $125. If you have a Centro phone, a special is case available for $35. This one is made out of woven fabric and has the D&B logo.”

Clue: IM on Mobile Device

Over at the Palm Blog, Paul Loeffler talked about using instant messaging from a mobile device. He discussed IM vs. SMS, and noted how Web-based mobile IM services don't come close to the IM experience you get on your desktop computer. But using an IM Client is a different experience entirely.

“Try out one of the various mobile IM clients available (Palm's mobile IM client is available on Sprint Centro and Treo 755p, and on AT&T Centro and Treo 680) and see for yourself if it's a better experience for you compared to the web-based IM clients. I don't think IMing from mobile devices will replace text messaging anytime soon, but it's certainly becoming a better experience and more like the IMing that many of us enjoy from our desktop computers.”

Note: Funny Palm should write about IM this week. That was part of the big Apple iPhone event on Thursday. Apple invited several developers on stage to demonstrate work-in-progress versions of some of the first third-party native iPhone applications that included Instant Messenger (AOL), Spore (EA Games), and Super Monkey Ball (SEGA). Read more here.

Clue: Understanding Your Data Plan

Jamie at Smart Device Central has posted a story that explains how to figure out exactly what you would pay each month, with each carrier, when buying a smartphone. In this installment, he covers regular, non-BlackBerry devices. More installments will follow.

News: Google Gears for Windows Mobile

Google is bringing Google Gears to mobile phones so that people on the go can access Web-based applications even when they're not connected to the mobile Net.

See the video

The mobile version of Google Gears is only supported by Windows Mobile 5 and 6 in Internet Explorer Mobile for now. Google is promising support for other platforms.

News: Yahoo Brings Contextual Search to Mobile Platform

This week, at the CEBIT conference in Europe, Yahoo launched a major new addition to its mobile phone platform that provides users with a contextual search capability that appears to be significantly more advanced than anything currently offered by Google or Microsoft.

“Called Yahoo One Place, the new service allows users to aggregate all their favorite information sources inside one service that then treats each of those items as a distinct dynamic object. This means that each of those objects will then kick off a search that automatically updates Yahoo One Space so the user always has the latest information available about that object.
The service can also be configured to be location aware so users are provided search updates that are relevant to their location and information stored in OneSpace can be shared with anyone on a social network using a new open API that Yahoo has developed for this service. That open API allows users to import data from any source of the web, including, Google, YouTube and Microsoft, to bring all their data into a centrally accessible resource.”

Unfortunately for Yahoo, this new contextual search capability is only available on Yahoo's mobile platform at the moment. OneSpace will be available from Yahoo's carrier partners in the second quarter, which apparently includes the Apple iPhone.

News: Mobile Ticketing Goes Mainstream, 2.6B Mobile Tickets Set to be Delivered by 2011

A report just issued by Juniper Research, states that over 2.6 billion mobile tickets will be delivered to just over 208 million mobile phone users by 2011. There is clear evidence that the sector is gearing up for major launches over the next few years. Early trials, mainly led by mobile network operators, are now migrating into commercial services that are controlled by the ticketing issuers themselves.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Savings for the airline industry of $500 million each year by migrating to mobile boarding passes
  • A total of almost $87 billion worth of mobile ticketing transactions by 2011

The report summarized that 2007 had been an important and groundbreaking year for the sector with trials and commercial deployments expected to continue throughout 2008 and beyond.

News: Handango’s 2007 Software Trends Released

On Thursday, Handango released the 2007 Year-end Handango Yardstick, a global trend report about the smartphone content industry. For the first time in Yardstick history, Entertainment content was the leading sales category, moving from third place in 2006, signaling a consumer shift in using smartphones not just for business and productivity-related activities. Also, the report shows smartphones created and marketed to consumers to use for work and play were among the leading devices for content downloads in 2007.

Here’s what it said about Palm OS applications:

“Although Palm released few devices in 2007, this operating system continued to show loyal demand for content throughout the year. The Palm Treo 650 remains one of the top devices for applications available from Handango.”

The top 10 best-selling applications for Palm OS in 2007 were:

  1. PocketMirror Standard Edition (Outlook synchronization)
  2. Agendus Professional Edition (personal information manager)
  3. SplashID (information security)
  4. Ringo Pro (ringtone player)
  5. Agendus Premier Edition (Outlook synchronization)
  6. Snap (data entry tool)
  7. Agendus Desktop Edition (Outlook synchronization)
  8. Diet & Exercise Assistant (fitness assistant)
  9. PocketMirror Standard Upgrade (Outlook synchronization)
  10. SplashWallet Suite (personal identification manager)

New Stats: 23% of Mobile Users Have Seen Ads

In new report issued by Nielsen Mobile, nearly a quarter of mobile users say they’ve encountered some sort of advertising on their mobile devices, despite the relatively small universe of mobile Internet users.

“Over the last 30 days, 58 million users reported being exposed to mobile advertising, or 23 percent of the total mobile audience, according to Nielsen’s bi-annual Mobile Advertising Report, which is based on a survey of over 22,000 active mobile data users (those who use phones for more than just phone calls).”

New Stats: Sales Data, New Challengers Don't Bode Well For Moto

According to a new Gartner study, Motorola recorded sales of just 164,307 million phones while Nokia achieved its long-term target of nearly 40 percent by selling 435,453 million phones. Samsung grabbed 13.4 percent with 154,540 handset units sold.

Note: Motorola Inc (MOT.N: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Thursday its chief marketing officer, Casey Keller, left the company on Feb. 29 as part of its restructuring, the latest management reshuffle at the struggling mobile phone maker.

News: Survey Says… Cell Phone Most Vital Device

According to a new study released by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, Americans are now more reliant on their mobile phones than their landline phones. When the research firm mounted a similar study two years earlier, respondents still cited landline phones as the more essential technology. Pew Research associate director John Horrigan remarked:

"The preferences have flipped. During that timeframe, people have gotten new devices that have more capabilities. People have more experience using cell phones for text messaging and other information tools. That has helped pushed cell phones as 'go to' devices."

News: CSR Creates BlueVox2, the Five-Buck Bluetooth Headset Chip

CSR, the UK-based company with over 50 percent of the market share of Bluetooth products, has created BlueVox2, a cheap mono headset with low power consumption. CSR claims 15 hours talk time—and noise reduction. The tiny chip has AuriStream, allows simultaneous connection to multiple devices and supports Bluetooth 2.1 EDR.

Endnotes & Ponderables:

Crocs UK Creates Crocs Cellphone Case

I saw this post at Slashphone. In the UK Crocs will release a cellphone case that looks very similar to their shoes. Apparently it will be available in eight different colors; black, silver, red, grape, fuchsia, celery, cotton candy and turquoise beginning in May for about $15. Sure it is a novelty, but it also helps the Crocs brand at a time when it is losing momentum.

I saw another story that I thought would be a good ponderable for Palm…

Gigabyte Communications announced a Windows Mobile-based phone it says that not only records calls and messages, but also camouflages a user's location by simulating background noises. What I like about this is that they are using camouflage to stand out.

And for the last time, I’m begging Palm to do something (anything) to stand out. The Centro is good but not enough. Perhaps while we all “spring forward” on Sunday, Palm will put some thought into how they plan to spring the company forward in the months ahead.

Well ladies and gentlemen, this is it. The end of my column and the end of a very fine 2 year run of writing Talkin’ Treo. It’s time for me to spring forward to new challenges. Thanks for reading!

That’s a wrap!

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