Treo 700p smartphone combines Palm OS, EvDO

Palm Inc. will debut the Treo 700p smartphone on Monday, marking the second of four new devices the Sunnyvale, California, company plans to launch this year.

The device is the first smartphone to have both the Palm OS and EvDO (evolution-data optimized) wireless broadband, said Steve Sinclair, a senior product manager at Palm.

By adding e-mail and Office functions, a digital camera and MP3 music player, the 700p will appeal to both consumer and enterprise users, he said.

Smartphones are a crucial part of Palm’s business. In March, swelling Treo sales pushed the company past earnings estimates for the first quarter of 2006 despite falling demand for basic PDAs.

Palm says that success is also helping it to win a greater share of the smartphone segment, as the company posted 111 percent growth in units sold from 2004 to 2005, while the market grew just 65 percent.

Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM) still leads the 4.85 million unit smartphone market with 53 percent market share, Palm said. But Palm holds a strong second place with 33 percent. Other vendors, including Samsung, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, Nokia and Sony Ericsson, each have 3 percent or less.

Like the existing 700w, which runs Windows Mobile OS, the 700p uses EvDO networking, offers a 1.3 megapixel digital camera, and stocks 128MB of memory, all driven by a 312MHz Intel XScale processor.

One difference is that the people with laptop PCs can use the 700p as a wireless modem, connected with either a USB (Universal Serial Bus) cable or Bluetooth wireless.

“EvDO is a great enabler; it’s like having Ethernet in your pocket,” Sinclair said.

Analysts agree.

“EvDO enhancement is a significant thing for the Palm OS version of Treo,” said David Linsalata, an analyst with IDC. “It opens up the door for 3G enterprise applications on this device.”

Despite their similarities, the Treo models could appeal to different users.

“The 700w and 700p are comparable in the sense they are both designed to be able to handle anything really well, but I expect the platforms to drift toward different segments,” Linsalata said. “For mobile enterprise, Microsoft has a stronger hold, while the Palm version could drift toward a more balanced role.”

The Treo 700p is not yet in stores. Palm said telephony carriers Sprint and Verizon Wireless would soon announce pricing and availability.

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