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Palm, Microsoft, and Vodafone announce plans for new Treo

Thu Jul 13, 2006 - 9:28 AM EDT - By Michael Ducker


Palm, Microsoft and Vodafone announced plans to launch a new GSM Treo by the end of the year on Vodafone's European networks. The Treo will run Windows Mobile, and have a 3G/UMTS radio.

This Treo, long rumored under the codename "Hollywood" (but also more recently as "Lennon") will presumably have no external antenna - a first for the Treo. It should also be thinner and lighter then current Treos. This Treo would represent the first major form factor change to the Treo line in 3 years, a long needed new form factor, and a much needed product in Palm's GSM lineup.

Over the years, Palm has found great success in the US markets, especially thanks to close partnerships with US CDMA carriers Sprint and Verizon. Their entry into Europe has been less successful, with, in my opinion, their greatest success being the Orange UK launch of the Treo 600 three years ago.

Four major factors that have hampered Palm's success in Europe have been a lack of dedication in marketing from carriers, a form factor that did not suit the local market, a lack of a 3G GSM radio, and a Palm operating system that has a much smaller install base than in the US. Rarely do any European phones have antennas and nearly all other premium phones include 3G radios. Working with Vodafone closely, running Windows Mobile (which has much more carrier support in Europe), including a 3G radio, and removing the antenna are all direct changes that appear to address these previous flaws.

Of course this new Treo will also have to comply with the new EU environmental regulations. As of July 1st, Palm does not sell any Treos in Europe, following the discontinuation of the Treo 650 earlier this month due to non-compliance with the new law.

More information about this new Treo, including specifications and availability will be published as it becomes available on TreoCentral.

Press Release:

Palm today announced it has forged a new relationship with Vodafone targeted at expanding the adoption of wireless push email in Europe.

The Palm Treo smartphone that will result from this collaboration will represent an industry first by operating on Vodafone's 3G/UMTS network and delivering the hallmark Palm experience on top of the Microsoft Windows Mobile operating system. The new Treo smartphone will be available first to Vodafone customers in multiple European countries, including the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy and Netherlands, before the end of the calendar year.

"Partnering with Vodafone, a world-class mobile operator, is a significant step to accelerate our geographic expansion and serve more European customers," said John Hartnett, Palm senior vice president of worldwide sales and customer relations. "This collaboration will provide a powerful tool for enterprise customers that delivers on the Palm promise of ease of use and lets mobile professionals be fully productive away from the office."

Today, only an estimated 2 percent of business email inboxes worldwide are accessed via mobile, according to market research firm The Radicati Group. Palm, Vodafone and Microsoft will target this large, untapped market with real-time push email using Microsoft's Messaging and Security Feature Pack available on Windows Mobile 5.0, which includes Direct Push Technology and enhanced security features.

"Vodafone's business customers expect us to help them increase productivity and make the most of their business and personal time," said Nick Jeffery, global director of Business Marketing, Vodafone. "The new Treo smartphone will be a market-leading device, which combined with our high-speed 3G/UMTS network and real-time push email, will make this an invaluable business tool."

"The new Treo based on Windows Mobile will offer a unique experience for mobile business users in Europe and will be an attractive proposition for organizations considering mobile deployments. The combination of powerful and familiar software, a fantastic user experience and world-class service through one of the leading mobile network operators in the world is a winning formula for businesses and organizations in Europe," said Suzan DelBene, corporate vice president of marketing for the Mobile and Embedded Devices Division at Microsoft.

Information on the new Treo smartphone will be shared closer to commercial availability.

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