Mobile-computing pioneer Palm and software pioneer Microsoft today announced at a joint press conference a strategic alliance to accelerate the Smartphone market segment with a new device for mobile professionals and businesses. Palm has licensed the Microsoft Windows Mobile operating system for an expanded line of Treo Smartphones, the first of which will be available on Verizon Wireless' national wireless broadband network. The news was revealed in a press conference with Ed Colligan, president and chief executive officer of Palm; Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect of Microsoft; and Denny Strigl, chief executive officer of Verizon Wireless.
The collaboration gives customers more choices and marks a dedicated effort to deliver one of the world's most innovative Smartphone solutions on the software platform favored by many businesses. Treo Smartphones combine the hallmark Palm experience of a full-featured mobile phone with e-mail, messaging, Web access1 and organizational software in an attractive, compact design. The New Treo Smartphone takes advantage of the Windows Mobile 5.0 platform in multiple ways, offering Outlook Mobile, Office Mobile and Internet Explorer Mobile built into the Smartphone, as well as direct access to Exchange Server 2003 for mobile access to information2. In addition, the new Treo will operate with Verizon Wireless' BroadbandAccess service, the largest high-speed wireless broadband network in the United States. Verizon Wireless expects the new Treo to be available to its customers in early 2006.
"We've long believed that the future of personal computing is mobile computing, and our collaboration with Microsoft is a historic step in delivering that vision to a larger market," said Colligan. "We're confident customers will see a differentiated Smartphone that delivers our world-class usability on Microsoft's flexible and robust Windows Mobile operating system. We collaborated with Verizon Wireless first because of its high-speed wireless network and growing footprint of BroadbandAccess cities."
"This is a landmark alliance that will help businesses remain on the cutting edge of competitiveness," Gates said. "Demand for accessing information on mobile devices is soaring, and businesses want a low-cost, scalable solution. We're excited to team with Palm and Verizon Wireless to deliver a winning Windows Mobile solution that connects professionals to their critical information while on the go."
The Treo Smartphone on Windows Mobile is a CDMA-based phone targeted for the U.S. market and takes advantage of Verizon Wireless BroadbandAccess service on its EV-DO network with download speeds averaging 400-700 kilobits per second. Today, about half the U.S. population, in more than 84 major metropolitan areas and in hundreds of airports across the nation, can access download speeds comparable to DSL or cable-modem connections. Verizon Wireless has been expanding its BroadbandAccess service area steadily since its debut in the fall of 2003.
"The new Treo Smartphone will highlight the speed and power of our BroadbandAccess service," said Strigl. "The Treo will deliver fast downloading of e-mail and attachments as well as quick access to critical-business information, providing businesses with a great return on investment. Our strong relationships with Microsoft and Palm continue to provide real value for our customers."
The new Treo Smartphone is powered by an Intel processor and joins Palm's award-winning family of Treo Smartphones, which includes the Treo 600 and 650, both offered today to Verizon Wireless customers.
During the press conference, the companies demonstrated the Palm experience now brought to life on Windows Mobile. The audience saw a sampling of Palm's award-winning hardware design integrated thoughtfully with a rich Palm Software suite including the ability to:
- Contact someone quickly from the Today Screen and choose between home, office or mobile numbers, or select e-mail or SMS. With only two letters entered, a customer can find a record from among thousands of contacts
- Reach people most often called via photo speed dials visible as a band of images on the Today Screen
- Decline a call with a friendly SMS, signaling "In a meeting" or "Talking with the boss" instead of simply ignoring the call; and
- Rewind, delete or fast-forward through work or cell phone voice mail with familiar and consistent on-screen icons
Full product details will be disclosed when the product is available for purchase in early calendar 2006. No plans were revealed for additional mobile operators. Palm indicated that a Treo Smartphone using Windows Mobile based on other wireless technologies was not anticipated to be released earlier than the second half of 2006.
UPDATE: Palm declined to comment on specific device features others then it is using an Intel CPU, Windows Mobile 5.0 and supports Verizon's EV-DO. Also a price wasn't announced yet but it was indicated, that the Treo 700w will be slightly more expensive then current Treos because it is including EV-DO. Naming is a good keyword because Palm also declined to give a specific device name yet but just call it "Windows Mobile Palm Treo" internally.
UPDATE 2: Yes, there is a GSM/GPRS (maybe even UMTS) version planned also as Ed Colligan confirmed on request. However, to get this version into our hands, it seems we have to wait until mid of next year which looks fairly late (I'm always afraid if a release date is that far away that we either never see it released or it is outdated, specification-wise).
Cheers ~ Arne