Palm Inc. recently announced the Palm Treo 680 smart-phones that will deliver the popular interactive mapping experience of Google Maps to millions of users. The new Treo aims to meet growing demand for devices with multimedia capabilities that receive e-mail wirelessly, let users listen to digital music, download podcasts and handle other features beyond talk.
The company said it would begin a 25 million-dollar marketing campaign to expand demand for the product beyond its base of business users.
Google Maps for mobile optimized for Palm OS based Treo smart-phones is a free downloadable Palm OS application that offers directions, local search, moveable/scalable maps, location satellite imagery and traffic updates while on the go.
Palm Chief Executive Ed Colligan said the Treo smart-phone would be a "more friendly and approachable" model, and would come in a variety of colors. He said the price would be more affordable than previous models, but declined to give specifics, since carriers would determine the final price consumers pay.
Google Maps for mobile is one of our most popular mobile applications, said Deep Nishar, director of product management for Google Inc. "We are dedicated to providing user-friendly services that make life on the go easier. It has been a pleasure working with Palm to bring our critically acclaimed local search and mapping application to millions of Treo users."
Google Maps for mobile on Treo smartphones offers numerous benefits for life on the run:
- Comprehensive information on traffic conditions in more than 30 U.S. major metropolitan areas, and partial information in many others;
- Detailed driving directions with traffic estimates to avoid congestions;
- One-touch recall of favorite locations and routes;
- Integrated search results for business locations, restaurant reviews, hotel amenities and hours of operation;
- Interactive maps to explore further, reaching beyond current locations, and Satellite and aerial views.
The Treo 680 supports Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files, 64MB of user memory, 64MB SDRAM, Intel 312 MHz processor, Lithium-ion removable battery, VGA camera, Bluetooth, and infrared.
The quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE runs on Palm OS and features a slimmer body with built in antenna. Multimedia functions let consumers create slideshows, add music and play music or podcasts on MP3 files with Pocket Tunes, and setup contacts from pictures and videos. There is also a voice memo application.
By pressing and holding the launcher key, a function provides a list of most recently used applications. Palm will make a wired car kit application available, too.
As part of Palm’s marketing campaign, smart posters with plasma screens and cellular radios built in are being embedded at about a dozen bus stops in major U.S. cities. They will let people send SMS messages to get information on local weather or pizza locations, for example.
The message will change depending on the location of the smart billboard, said Colligan, during a press conference at the DigitalLife trade show in New York.
“Many times people look at Treo and say, oh, you’re in the telephone business, but I look at it as a power mobile computer in your pocket,” Colligan said.
Palm has historically focused on creating products based on how people use them, rather than the technology inside. "We like to think about pockets and not processors," Colligan said, explaining Palm based the original design on the ability to fit in someone’s pocket.
Competition in the smart-phone market is heating up as rival Motorola Inc. started selling its "Q" in July and Nokia launched the E61 in April.
"It will be competitively priced with comparable smart-phones in the marketplace," Ed Colligan said at a press conference in New York.
He added that the marketing campaign would entail an investment of 25 million dollars between Palm and Vodafone Group Plc — Palm’s biggest marketing campaign in five years. Palm last month introduced a version of the Treo smart-phone with Vodafone, the world’s biggest mobile service provider.
"We are committed to expanding relationships with mobile content providers to bring our customers the latest in mobile technology," said David Diangson, director, business development and licensing for Palm, Inc. "Google’s local search expertise along with added conveniences such as traffic updates and directions make mobile lifestyles even easier. With its full keyboard, 5-way navigation, and touch screen, our Treo line is designed to take advantage of numerous applications, ranging from work to play, that complement a user’s everyday life."
Meeting the needs of consumers, there are four default wallpapers to choose from, simplified favorites, integrated contacts built into the phone application, active call thumbnails offers a picture to go along with the phone information, multi-way conference calls, and a feature to ignore text message.
The Treo 680 will come with a 30-day trial for Yahoo Music Unlimited. Colligan demonstrated several applications including Yahoo! Music; Six Apart’s TypePad Mobile Blog Application and Google Maps.
Good news for wireless customers who have been waiting for positive news, not only about a new Treo, but carrier agreements, too. The Treo has become a standard tool for mobile professional, right up there along with the BlackBerry, said John Jackson, vice president of consulting at research firm M:Metrics Inc.
"We have seen certain handset manufacturers who have category killer products able to create demand pull across operators who need the product to be competitive," Jackson said. "Sprint ended up clamoring for the Razor, for example. They did not have it and there was a gapping hole in their product line."
Google Maps for mobile has been optimized for the following Palm OS based Treo smartphones:
- New Treo 680 smartphone
- Treo 700p smartphone
- Treo 650 smartphone
- Treo 600 smartphone
Palm’s strategy will see it expand deeper into markets worldwide, as well as take a bigger chunk of the U.S. market. Ovum telecom analyst Roger Entner estimates the Palm Treo owns between 20 percent and 25 percent of the U.S. market share. That could change as the strategy broadens from enterprise professionals to a heavier emphasis on consumers.
Palm expects the Treo 680 will become available through more than 20 carriers worldwide by the end of the company’s fiscal year, June 1, 2007.
Google Maps for mobile is available free of charge. To download Google Maps for mobile to a Treo smartphone, users simply visit www.google.com/gmm from the Treo web browser.