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Not the time for Bluetooth on the Treo

Mon Sep 6, 2004 - 4:58 PM EDT - By Michael Ducker

The Results

We started with small ambitions, maybe hopefully raising $2000, through small donations from TreoCentral users. But our idea of a community funded drive to get something changed in the Treo was a unique idea and was publicized on Slashdot among other sites. Our wild high goal of $5000 was reached in the second month of the 2 and a half month bounty. At the end, we had $5812 pledged. More than 180 people pledged money for the bounty, with an average pledge of around $30. The largest pledge aside from our $500, was $200, the smallest $1.

As we got more publicity, more people who knew Bluetooth started to get involved in the discussion. Sadly, these people only had bad news to share. Developers started to tell us that what we were asking was impossible, because it was physically impossible for the Treo to access the voice stream from the radio. This meant that at best, a driver would only be capable of doing data over Bluetooth. But, as our conditions stated that it must support the headset profile, a driver that only did data would not have won the bounty.

The forums were full of skeptics, but there were some developers that were optimistic. Three people did contact us saying that they would like to work on the driver, but we have not heard from them since. Lastly, there was a persistent rumor that PalmOne had a working data Bluetooth driver for the Treo 600, but because it could not support voice, they did not want to release it. This rumor would make sense since the Treo Ace, said to be released in late October, will include Bluetooth. Assuming that the architectures stay similar, making a driver for the Treo Ace would be fairly easy to change for the Treo 600. When asked, PalmOne denied these rumors, but they added that any third party developer would need support from both PalmSource and PalmOne. Presumably PalmOne has not supported any effort to add Bluetooth to the Treo 600. In fact, it makes since that PalmOne does not want Bluetooth on the Treo 600 as Bluetooth would be a feature that might encourage people to upgrade to the next Treo, increasing their revenue.

So, even with a month's salary on the table, no working driver was developed by our September 6th deadline. We have not billed any of the credit cards associated with pledges, and the database that was created has now been deleted. We thank you to everyone who pledged money for our effort, everyone that helped guide this effort, and to everyone who took the time to support it. All is not lost though, as our bounty proved to PalmOne, Sprint, and others that there is significant interest in Bluetooth on the Treo. There might even still be a third party developer working on a data only driver for the Treo 600. I am certain that the enthusiasm and efforts of the community have not gone unheard at the various companies in power. The next Treo, codenamed Ace, will have Bluetooth built in, and hopefully they will have taken in the concerns of the community when designing the device.

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