Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Palm Treo Pro is out!!!

Ok, I really had to stretch my enthusiasm to create the title of this post... Today Palm has announced yet-another Windows Mobile Treo, called Treo Pro. They announced the Treo 800W a few weeks ago with Sprint, generating pretty much the same reaction from the media (none). The specs are what you would expect from a smartphone these days: wi-fi, GPS, keyboard, 3G (the 800W on CDMA, the PRO on GSM networks). All on WM 6.1.

It will be a well engineered device, targeted to the enterprise (at $549 a pop, it is hard to imagine otherwise). It will sell ok, another stop-gap for Palm towards the next big thing. Same as the Centro (which is consumer-focused), buying Palm time to the iPhone/BlackBerry/Android killer everybody knows they are working on (but nobody has seen).

Unfortunately, these days it is hard to generate buzz. Coming up with a new release of the same device does not do it, unless you are Apple (I am still amazed at how much noise the iPhone 3G has made, and I can't get those lines of customers out of my mind...). To make noise in this space, you need to come up with something totally new. And totally cool. Palm was not going for buzz (although they generated some). They just needed a bit more cash and some more time.

I am still a believer in Palm (and a long-time fan). I hope the stop-gap measures will work and give them enough time to launch that killer. I met some Palm executives recently and it is clear they have been recruiting top-notch people, therefore being optimistic is easy.

If the iPhone stays too close and Apple too greedy (quite likely), Android does not get a good dress (very probable, the device from HTC looked horrible) and my Windows Mobile continues to reboot (pretty much guaranteed), then there is room for a white-knight. An open, nice-looking, solid OS with a good brand and lots of developers, full control of OS and hardware from the vendor (what Google is lacking), and maybe some cloud thingy in the backend (like MobileMe but working).

That would do it for Palm. Lots of buzz guaranteed. It might be mobile nirvana.