November 8, 2006

What Happened to Palm Treo?

Palm Treo smartphones have always been regarded as some of the best mobile devices coming out of North America. In its infancy stage, the Treo 600 brought phone, pda, music, camera, web, connectivity, QWERTY keyboard and so much more to reality. The phone was definitely ahead of its time as it promised form, functionality and high performance.

Palm continued to capitalized on the Treo's momentum with an upgrade to Treo 650 which made a number of enhancements. It was even the smartphone of choice for CTU special agent Jack Bauer. However, it was at this point, users started to complain about the smart device being buggy and people are forced to try new firmware to get around many problems.

As Palm released a series of new Treos in the recent weeks, fans were disappointed release after release from a bunch of mediocre smartphones that lacked improvements, innovations and new design that once propelled Treo phones to success. Lets start with the Treo 700w (or 700wx for Sprint), the first Treo to run on windows mobile OS. In terms of hardware spec, it still couldn't touch 1 year old Samsung SCH-i730 also running Windows Mobile 5.0. Treo 700w's CPU is Intel XScale 312MHz (vs. Samsung's 512MHz). Treo 700w does not offer WiFi either. This makes applications like Skype Pocket PC useless. Most of Dell's AXIM Pocket PCs can out compete Treo's hardware spec.

Next up, Treo 700p powered by Palm OS. Again, not much of improvement over previous versions. The only significant improvment, like the 700w, is the EV-DO 3G support and "improved" camera/camcorder. Again, the phone lacks WiFi capabilities and doesn't support Palm's own SD WiFi card.

Finally, Palm released some information for the upcoming Treo 680, the only Treo without an external antenna. In short, its basically a Treo 700p rebadged with a marketing angle towards multimedia. This phone was announced at the Digital Life conference back in September and at the time of writing, it is still no where in sight.

I am not by any means a Treo-hater. Infact, I had high hopes for each of the Treo releases. However, if you stack the new Treo(s) up against the competition (ie. Moto Q, Blackberry Pearl, Nokia E62), you'll find that competition is offering phones thinner, faster and more bullet proof.
And I haven't even addressed the countless of "bugs" reported by users.

I hope Palm can re-evaluate its products for today's market. I would love to see the same innovation that produced the original Palm Pilot and Palm Treo to fight back. Think about the product from ground up and give us what we want: WiFi, 2MP camera, bigger and better display, more memory, faster CPU, and more. I still have faith in you.

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