By Barry Levine / Mobile Tech Today. Updated December 17, 2007.
Palm joined Verizon Wireless in announcing on Monday the availability of the Treo 755p smartphone through that carrier. While not the breakthrough product that some had been hoping for, the 755p refreshes the Treo line for Verizon.
As an updated version of the 700p, the 755p features the Palm OS, EVDO for data transmission and reception, a touch screen, a full Qwerty keyboard, a 1.3 megapixel camera, a mini-SD slot for cards up to 4 GB, support for Microsoft Office documents, and a preinstalled version of Google Maps.
The companies said that, compared to its predecessor, the 755p has "a sleeker design with an internal antenna and a soft-touch feel."
Treo New to Verizon
As smartphones proliferate, the pressure is on Palm to update the Treo, overhaul the Palm OS, and release new products.
Sean Ryan, an analyst with IDC, noted that the 755p is new to Verizon, but is not a new generation of Treo. He pointed out that it's also available in the U.S. on Sprint, but that, for Verizon's Treo users, it provides an upgrade path in the "flagship Treo line."
While the Treo line still has legs, Palm itself has been trying to regain its foothold as a leading innovator in smart, mobile devices. Ryan noted that the company is "poised to release something potentially revolutionary," since the company has new management, private equity, and new talent.
Earlier this year, Palm hired Paul Mercer, a designer who had worked on the interface for Apple's iPod, and the expectation is that the Palm OS will be getting a new interface.
Pressure for New Products
The Centro line, released in the fall, is the smallest and lightest Palm phone and also works with EVDO for high-speed data transmission. It is available exclusively from Sprint. When the Centro launched, it was greeted by some industry observers as the most interesting new Palm product in a while. While it didn't offer many unique features, it did offer a smaller form factor and lower price to appeal to consumers.
New product launches and carrier partners are critical to Palm, as it faces a highly competitive environment. Among others, Research In Motion is a major player in the enterprise market and is starting to address the consumer market. In addition, Apple's iPhone has made the smartphone more appealing to consumers in the U.S. and elsewhere.
That smartphone market is growing rapidly, with IDC projecting that there will be 60 million more smartphones sold in the U.S. in 2011 than in 2007.
Many observers have said that, to survive in this growing market, Palm needs to release innovative mobile products and interfaces that capture the energy the company once had -- instead of investing in projects such as the ill-fated Foleo, a smartphone companion product that absorbed company resources and attention but was canceled before it launched.
Among other things, Palm has indicated it will be releasing an entirely new Linux-based Palm OS in 2009.