Palm Announces Windows Treo
As expected, Palm announced a forthcoming Treo smart phone running Microsoft's Windows Mobile 5 at a press conference today in San Francisco. The device will be available in the United States early next year.
Few details about the device were released, but Palm president and CEO Ed Colligan called the Windows Treo a "historic" product that the company hopes will help it become a supplier to IT departments around the world. The Treos combine the functionality of a PDA with the ability to make phone calls and browse the Internet.
Colligan was joined on stage by Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates, and Verizon Wireless president and CEO Denny Strigl, whose company will be the exclusive provider of the Windows Treo for several months.
"This is our first 3G product," Colligan said. Verizon's growing EV-DO (Evolution-Data Only) network based on CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) technology allows download speeds of between 400 kbps (kilobits per second) and 700 kbps in some parts of the United States.
The companies have been working on the product for several years, Colligan said, but word of the device had trickled out on handhelds enthusiast Web sites like Engadget over the last few months.
Palm's Treo 600 and 650 have been hot sellers, but most of them have been bought by individuals for personal use. The devices run the venerable Palm OS, which has been the exclusive operating system for Palm's devices since the company's inception.
However, Windows Mobile 5 will allow users to hook their Treos into their corporate Exchange e-mail servers and deploy on their phone corporate applications written for Windows, Colligan said.
Microsoft believes that all professionals eventually will have a phone that allows them to access their e-mail, Gates said. This device will allow Microsoft to tap into the growing demand for Palm's devices, he said.
Microsoft and Palm also worked together to build some of Palm's application expertise into the Windows Treo, allowing Palm to differentiate the Treo from other Windows Mobile 5 products sold by companies such as HP, Colligan said.
Colligan did not directly address the future of the Palm OS within Palm's smart phones and PDAs in Monday's press conference. He called the Microsoft announcement an "expansion" of Palm's product line," saying, "This is not about other things going away. This is about growth."