Tuesday, July 29, 2008

2 Million Centros, Treo 800w BT Update

Palm Sells 2 Million Centro Smartphones

Earlier today, Palm issued a press release stating that the smartphone maker had sold it's 2 millionth Centro smartphone.
"Consumers are ready to do more on their mobile phone, and Centro has struck a chord around the world," said Brodie Keast, senior vice president of marketing for Palm, Inc. "Centro has everything a person needs to stay connected with everyone who is important to them -- and at a price point and size that make smartphones more attractive to a much wider audience."
The same press release continues:
"Now available from almost 20 carriers worldwide, including the three largest carriers in the United States, Centro has reached more young adults and women, as well as a broader range of household income, than any prior Palm smartphone. It offers customers an affordable, simple and fun option for staying connected and doing more with their mobile phones."
With the consumer-oriented Centro smartphone, the ease of use of the Palm OS, stylish design, and a great price point come together to create a solution that does delight the first smartphone customers.

Palm Releases a Bluetooth Voice Dialing Update

Owners of the recently released Windows Mobile Treo 800w are now able to install a small patch that will allow them to use hands-free voice dialing commands over a Bluetooth headset.

The 131kb patch can be install from your desktop Windows XP or Vista computer, over-the-air directly to your Treo 800w, or via a microSD card. The installation and download links can be found on the Sprint Treo 800w downloads page.

Since this is a software patch, and not a full flash ROM upgrade, if you hard reset your Treo 800w, you will need to reapply this patch. Furthermore, this update is only intended for Sprint Treo 800w smartphones running the TREO800w-1.03-SPNT software image.

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Up In the Air




I have published this week's 1SRC Editorial; "Up In the Air."

Back in June I talked about how Palm might be transforming the MyPalm.com portal into a cloud computing solution for the company’s products. With the recent announcement of the MyPalm.com shutdown, I have become more convinced than ever that a new Palm cloud solution is coming.

Recent evidence suggests that even though Palm is closing down their MyPalm.com beta service, work at the company is preceding full steam ahead on a new Internet-based solution.

I suspect that Palm will re-launch their software portal, Software Connection. As you may recall, Motricity has sold all of their direct to consumer businesses, included the eReader and PocketGear properties. Fictionwise acquired the eReader assets and is moving forward with their new assets. I’m glad to see the eReader business in good hands. I really do plan on reading more ebooks before the end of the year. The future of Palm’s Software Connection is a little bit less clear. There is a new management team in place at PocketGear, and their relationship with Palm is still an unknown. The question in my mind is whether or not the new management team is interested in running other company’s software stores in the same manner that Motrcity did for Palm.


One of the key features of the MyPalm.com portal was the ability to deliver new applications to your smartphone over the air (OTA). This was a very nice feature. Simply provide your mobile number and a SMS message is sent that includes the download link for the software. Tap the link and the software is downloaded and installed on your phone. There is no need to sync with a desktop computer. This is the kind of easy of use and simplicity that Palm is so good at. Come September, I expect that Palm will have an enhanced software portal that will allow you to download and purchase software for Palm OS and Windows Mobile devices OTA. If you are a MyPalm member and haven’t tried OTA software installs, go test it out. You will become a convert.

An OTA software store is only a part of the total picture. It is very likely that Palm is moving forward with a new cloud-based service. The Palm Backup beta application alone should be proof of that. If you do need more proof, Palm writes in a recent 10-K SEC filing report that they, “substantially [acquired] all of the assets of a corporation focused on developing solutions to enhance the performance of web applications.” This information taken in consideration with other information that is available strongly suggests that a new cloud application is coming.

Look at it this way; the MyPalm portal beta will have been running for over a year by the time it is closed down. That is plenty of time to learn how people would use a new cloud service and to perfect OTA content delivery. Integrated cloud applications like Google Docs, Mail, and Calendar have been come popular because your information “parked” on servers accessed from the Internet on a wide range of devices. (Yes, I agree that not everyone will want to put all of their data out on servers they don’t control. Lets agree that criminals will get your data one-way or another if they really want to, regardless of where you store your data.) Apple’s Mobile Me service launch was, and still is, a complete mess with tens of thousands of users unable to fully access their account. As flawed as Apple’s implementation of Mobile Me was, rest assured, the underlying concept is sound. I believe that Palm could be working on a “Mobile Me Too” service that will allow their customers to store data on a Palm server and have that data available to smartphones, other Palm products, and all of your computers. Corporate organizations already have these features with Microsoft’s Exchange Server product. Palm has an opportunity to deliver an enterprise class messaging solution targeted specifically at new Centro owners, “prosumers” and small business owners. There is an enormous potential for success here.

All of these new features won’t come with out a price. I fully expect that if Palm does offer a “Mobile Me Too” solution, like Apple, they will charge customers an annual maintenance fee. At $99 a year, Apple’s Mobile Me service is a good value. If Palm where to charge something on the order of $60-79 annually for the kind of service I am talking about, they could potentially steal customers away from Apple.

In conclusion, while I don’t have any first hand information about what is going on at Palm, there is plenty of evidence available that Palm is working on a server based product offering leveraging web technologies. I expect that Palm is working on more than just a new software store and I am looking forward to seeing a cloud-based synchronization solution from Palm.

If the early success of the Treo 800w is any indication of the new management atmosphere introduced by Elevation Partners, Palm can deliver a new data synchronization and OTA content delivery system if they want to.

[Via 1SRC.com...]

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

1SRC Podcast 191





Jeff Kirvin is my special co-host for this week's show as we run down this week's topics:
  • Jeff Kirvin is my special co-host for this week's show.
  • Jeff's review of the Treo 800w and why he is a Palm customer again.
  • Palm InfoCenter is reporting the Treo 755p is being phased out.
Listen to the 1SRC Podcast show 191 now...

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sprint Centro 1.07 Software Update


Palm has released a software update for the Sprint edition of the Palm Centro smartphone. This update is designed only for the Sprint device.














According to the Palm website, the 1.07 software includes several enhancements:
  • Improved Gmail IMAP compatibility
  • Updated compatibility for Google Mobile Maps My Location feature
  • Improved ongoing delivery of email sent to VersaMail accounts viaExchange ActiveSync
  • Bluetooth usability enhancements and updates
  • Sprint TV performance enhancements
  • Enhanced AOL Instant Messenger performance
  • Improved performance when adding a contact using Mobile Voice Control
  • Improved email attachment handling
  • Changed default camera shutter sound to “ON.” Audible shutter “click” will be heard
  • Allows Preferred Roaming List updates over the air
Before applying this update, I recommend that you back up your device either by performing a HotSync operation with your computer or by using a backup application, like Alex Pruss' free NVBackup application.

This software update can not be undone, even by means of a hard reset. Make sure that you are ready to commit to the update before applying it.

For more information and the download link, visit the Palm website...

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Windows Mobile Sync Troubleshooting

I went to sync my Palm Treo 750 with my Dell Optiplex 755 running Microsoft Windows Vista Business SP1 this evening and ran into trouble. (Imagine that!)

When I placed the Treo in the cradle, the Windows Mobile Device Center didn't recognize that there was a device connected to the system. Sure, I heard that familiar "plink-plunk" when you connect a USB device to Windows, but the Treo and the PC just wouldn't talk to each other.

Windows Mobile Synchronization Troubleshooting Steps

Here is a short list of the troubleshooting steps that I took to resolve the issue.

1. Soft reset the Treo. (Just pull the batter, wait 20 seconds, and put it back in.)
2. Reboot the PC. (Stopping and restarting the Windows Mobile services didn't seem to work.)
3. Use the Windows Mobile Device Center to delete and recreate the partnership.
4. Resync the Treo with the Vista PC.

Upon initial resync wtih Windows and Microsoft Office, there was a sync error, however, performing a second data sync immediately after the first seemed to have cleared that error up.

Using the Treo to view the last sync status

You can check what the status was of the last data synchronization with your Treo was by using the ActiveSync application on your device. To view the last sync status:

1. Press the Start button (Windows flag key)
2. Select Programs from the Start menu (or press the "P" key)
3. Tap the ActiveSync icon
4. Use the right button (or tap the screen) to select the software Menu button
5. Select Status (or press "T") to view the sync log

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Friday, July 18, 2008

1SRC Podcast 190






This week on the 1SRC podcast, I tackle:
  • Palm rolls out the new electric blue Centro on AT&T.
  • AT&T slashes the price of the Centro to $69.99 with a 2-year service plan.
  • Palm launches the Treo 800w on Sprint! WinMo fans cheer with glee!
  • 1SRC Editorial: Palm's Marketing Must Be Better
Listen to the 1SRC Podcast, show 190 now...

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Palm's Marketing Must Be Better



I’ve been talking a lot about makeovers and transformations that are probably going on at Palm. Now it is time for Palm to overhaul their marketing department.

September 2007 can been seen as the official kick off for all of the transformations that Palm is undergoing. To get things started, Palm sold a 27% state in the company to private equity firm Elevation Partners. Then all of the non-essential businesses where sidelined, including the Foleo mobile companion, the traditional handheld PDA business, and Palm’s retail locations. Next came staff reductions and realignment of the remaining teams. Palm has begun to roll out smartphones that are grabbing enthusiastic reviews. Coming up next up for Palm is a new Linux-based mobile operating system that will modernize the venerable Palm OS. With all the positive momentum being generated at the company, the time is right to overhaul their marketing department.

In less than a year, Palm has sold more than a million consumer-oriented Centro smartphones. And they are on track to sell 2 million units by the end of the year. All in all, Palm’s marketing has been resonating with customers looking to replace their feature flip phones. This is a very good thing for Palm. (Evidence also suggests that Palm may soon be able to break even or begin making money on their Centro smartphones.)

However, the events of this past weekend border on being reckless. Just in case you missed it, Palm launched a new edition of the AT&T Centro this weekend. The electric blue Centro went on sale this past Friday at AT&T retail locations and online at the Palm website. AT&T also implemented a temporary price cut for the Centro. You can now get an AT&T Centro for just $69.99 when you sign up for a qualifying 2-year service agreement. (The discount is in effect until September 20, 2008.) And then on Sunday, Sprint began selling the highly anticipated Palm Treo 800w smartphone. Reviews for the Treo 800w are just starting to come in, however, according to the Palm blog, people are writing things like; “ the best Treo ever,” and “the most productive Windows Mobile Pro device.” It is a same that the long lines weren’t for Palm’s new products and that no one heard Palm’s message because the new hardware was introduced during the insanity that was the international Apple iPhone 3G and iPhone 2.0 software launch.

With Palm running lean and mean, it seems that their marketing department isn’t on the same page as the management. How else can you explain Palm spending money to launch new devices during the same weekend as a major product launch as the iPhone 3G? Why not postpone the product introductions by a weekend? The only thing that I could dream up for a reason to roll out a new Centro this past weekend would be in a vain attempt to be disruptive of Apple’s iPhone launch. If that was the case, Palm’s plan backfired as Apple reported today that they sold over a million iPhone 3Gs internationally as of Sunday; the third day of the new iPhone’s availability.

In the time remaining between now and whenever Palm is ready to deliver the first products running Palm OS II/Nova, I hope that Palm takes a hard look at their marketing efforts. Palm OS II/Nova will probably be the single most important product developed by Palm over the next five years. Palm’s message about the new version of Palm OS and the devices that run it needs to be loud and clear.

There is still time for Palm to put their marketing house in order. To get the ball rolling, Palm has taken the first major step forward by bringing Elevation into the fold. Elevation brings the disciple of product execution to the table and product marketing needs to be part of project plan. Secondly, Palm has hired Lynn Fox away from Apple; a feat that I’m sure Palm Executive Chairman Jon Rubinstein had a hand in. In her role as director of Macintosh PR, Fox will know how to add the sizzle to Palm’s steak. Lastly, Palm needs to engage the media and the Palm user community in a combined marketing assault that gets the word out that a new Treo running Palm OS II/Nova will run circles around your current phone.

If Palm can generate excitement for their brand, their new Treo and Palm OS in advance of their delivering the smartphone that there customer base has been clamoring for, Palm won’t just have a smash hit on their hands, they will be on their way to being a meaningful player in the mobile computing field.

[Via 1SRC.com...]

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Jeff Kirvin on the Treo 800w

Now batting for the Palm lineup - Jeff Kirvin!

"The Kirv" has picked up a new Windows Mobile Treo 800w. Jeff writes:

"I picked up a Treo 800w over the weekend and man, I have to give Palm their props. This is a wonderful refinement of the venerable Treo form factor. It’s comfortable, light and elegant. But what really make the difference is software, Palm’s “special sauce”."

Read Jeff's full post on JeffKirvin.net...

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Palm Officially Launches the Treo 800w


















Earlier today, Palm has launched the Treo 800w smartphone for the Sprint wireless network with Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, 802.11g Wi-Fi, and GPS capabilities.

"Palm is adding a unique stamp to the Windows Mobile experience with the Treo 800w," said Stephane Maes, vice president, product marketing, Palm, Inc. "It's an easy-to-use feature-packed smartphone that will keep users happy, empowered and productive."

The complete list of Treo 800w product specs can be found on the Palm Treo 800w website.
A downloadable PDF datasheet for the Treo 800w is also available.

The Treo 800w can be purchased for as little as $249.99 with a qualifying service plan and after instant and mail in rebates. Without a service agreement, the Treo 800w sells for $599.

You can purchase the Treo 800w from Palm's online store or Sprint's retail outlets and online store.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Weekend Wrap Up

This weekend, Palm made three important moves, not that anyone noticed with iPhonemania 2.0 in full swing.

Electric Blue Centro, Temporary Price Cut

On Friday, Palm introduced a new electric blue Centro on the AT&T wireless network. If you are following along on your scorecards, AT&T now has three colors to choose from: obsidian black, glacier white, and now electric blue. To entice even more people to chose Centro, AT&T has lowered the price to $69.99 when you sign up for a qualifying two-year service agreement. That is great news for anyone looking to jump on the smartphone bandwagon!

You can purchase an AT&T Centro either online from the Palm or AT&T website, or from any AT&T retail outlet. For more details, visit the Palm Centro website.


Sprint Begins Selling the Palm Treo 800w

At long last the new Palm Treo 800w is available! It has a great looking case and offers several new built-in features previously unavailable on any previous Palm smartphone.

Just some of the new features include Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1; a 320x320 touch screen display, a 2.0MP camera, and built-in Wi-Fi and GPS radios. The new Treo retails for $599, however, when you sign up for a qualifying service plan, after instant and mail-in rebates, the 800w sells for $249.99. A handsome price for what could be a very nice phone.

On Sunday night, Palm has yet to issue a press release or update their website and online store. Look for more details come Monday morning.


Oh Palm, sigh…

Working with AT&T to bring out a new Centro, if only in color, and putting a price cut in place was the right thing to do. And launching the much-anticipated Treo 800w on Sprint was another positive step forward.

Yet, once again, Palm’s marketing department show how inept they are. Launching two new phones and introducing a price cut during the same weekend that Apple was rolling out their new iPhone 3G and iPhone 2.0 software was just poor planning.

John Paczkowski from the D: All Things Digital website, has the perfect quote from Charlie Wolf who is an analyst at Needham & Company. The quote reads:

“They took the wrong day to do it,” said Charlie Wolf, a wireless analyst at Needham & Co. “It’s going to be drowned out by the hoopla around the iPhone.”

I truly hope that Palm learns from this mistake, and doesn’t start talking publicly about their Palm OS II/Nova plans and/or devices during the same week that Apple is rolling out new products at MacWorld Expo in San Francisco come January 2009. Palm needs to get out in front of Apple, or get behind them. Just don’t go toe-to-toe with them.

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Palm Launches the Treo 800w on Sprint


















Starting today, Sprint has begun selling the Palm Treo 800w smartphone. According to the Sprint website, the Treo 800w has the following product specifications:
  • Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1
  • Autonomous and simultaneous GPS using Sprint Navigation for turn by turn directions, and points of interest searches
  • Stereo Bluetooth lets you listen to your music on the go
  • Embedded Wi-Fi
  • 2.0 Megapixel camera/camcorder
  • MicroSD card support
  • 320x320 TFT display capable of displaying 65K colors
  • 256MB of user memory, 128MB of program memory
  • Incoming call alerts when a data session is in progress, avoid sending callers directly to voicemail
  • Phone as a modem support
The Treo 800w sells for $599 without a service plan and can be had for as little as $249.99 when purchased with a monthly $25 or more data plan (in addition to a voice plan) or the Sprint Simply Everything plan ($250 instant savings, $100 mail-in rebate).

Palm has yet to issue a press release officially announcing the Treo 800w. Additionally, the Palm website and online store have yet to be updated. I expect Palm's official launch of the Treo 800w to come on Monday morning.

Make sure you tune into this week's 1SRC.com Podcast for more details on the Treo 800w.

For more details, or to purchase the Treo 800w now, visit the Sprint website.

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Palm Lands Duarte

Engadget is reporting that Palm has hired well known software interface designer Matias Duarte. The company has confirmed that Mr. Duarte has been working for Palm since September 2007.

Mr. Duarte's title at Palm is listed as Senior Director, Human Interface and User Experience and is likely working on the new user interface for Palm's next generation Linux operating system, Palm OS II/Nova.

Bringing in Mr. Duarte is likely the work of Jon Rubeinstein who is leading an internal revolution at Palm with the intention of making the company relevant in the mobile computer market.

What I find interesting about this is that Palm has stated that Palm OS II/Nova is due to have the core OS completed by the end of this calendar year. Once the core is complete, the work on the interface would begin. It sounds like Palm has an entire team already working on the interfaces for the next generation Treo and Centro smartphones.

Is this yet another piece of evidence that suggests that Palm OS II/Nova will be ready before the middle of 2009? I think so.

Read the full Engadget article...

[Thanks to all the folks who sent in this tip.]

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Palm Post Verizon Treo 755p Update

Palm has posted a minor maintenance release for the Verizon Treo 755p. The new software brings the ROM version number up to Treo755p-1.08-VZW.

Similar to the Sprint Treo 755p update that was released on January 30 of this year, the Verizon update only states that "[t]his software update is a tune-up that improves the phone application, stability and device usability."

Having applied the Sprint update to my Treo 755p, I did not notice any changes in my device after the upgrade. The Treo was working well before the update and it is still working well six months later.

Download and update directions can be found on the Palm website.

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Management Change Up at Palm?

I noticed while reading the July 1 posted SEC Form 4 filing for Palm Founder Jeff Hawkins today that he is now listed as "Former Officer." This is in stark contrast to the listing of "Founder and Member of the Exec" that was listed on the Form 4 that was posted on June 16.

What Does This Mean?

A quick trip to the Palm website still lists Mr. Hawkins as being part of the Palm management team with the title of "Founder". I attempted to contact Palm's public relations department earlier today to obtain a clarification as to Mr. Hawkins' relationship with the company. As yet, Palm has not responded to that email.

As you may recall, Palm isn't the only business that Mr. Hawkins is involved with. In 2005, Mr. Hawkins started a new company called Numenta to "apply neuroscience research to computing problems." It is entirely possible that Mr. Hawkins is simply putting more time into this other passion, the study of the human brain.

I will provide updates as more information is made available.

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