Monday, April 7, 2008

Palm Rumor Round Up

The first quarter of 2008 has come and gone, so I figured it is time that I review the current status of all of the Palm rumors floating around on the Internet.

Treo 800w

I expect this device to show up in July 2008 on the Sprint network if the leaked slide on WMEXperts.com is real. The Treo 800w will replace the Treo 700wx in the carrier's network. The latest rumors seem to indicate that this new Windows Mobile Treo will ship with Windows Mobile 6.1 and not 6.0 as indicated on the slide. (I should also point out that Sprint never carried the 700w, but rather the 700wx. The slide may not 100% accurate.)

I'm looking forward to seeing this Treo ship with EVDO Rev A, a built in Wi-Fi radio, and an operating system accessable GPS receiver that can work with third-party GPS applications from Garmin and TomTom.

Adding to the validity of this information, some websites that posted the slide are being asked to remove the slide and comments in a recent Palm conference call appear to be in alignment with the rumors. I'll put this rumor at 90% likely to be true.

Verizon Centro

Rumors around the Verzion Centro are still a little bit spotty on the actual timing with rumored launch dates confined to the second quarter of 2008. Over the weekend, a leaked rebate form showed up on TreoCentral.com that clearly shows the Centro as being offered with a $70 mail-in rebate. Also clearly visible on the rebate form are the dates 3/30/08 - 6/15/08, the dates the rebate offer runs from and to.

As far as I am aware, this is the best evidence to date that the Palm Centro is coming to Verizon. EngadgetMobile recently posted that the device was coming to Verizon, but had the release dates later in the year (May-June).

The Centro is the best thing going for the Palm OS platform this year, so I'm expecting that Palm will continue to rollout the Centro is as many markets on as many carriers as they can. With Palm OS II/Nova still months away, the Centro is the only new device Palm will ship all year running the Palm OS 5.4 (Garnet) platform. I expect the Centro to be the last device from Palm to run Palm OS 5.x; next stop will be Palm OS II/Nova. My best guess will be a late April launch of the Centro on Verizon. I'm not sure what colors the Verzion Centro will be available in, but my guess is it will be the midnight blue version recently rolled out in Mexico.

I'm putting the validity for a Verizon Centro at 100%.

"Drucker"
Back in January, a leaked Vodafone slide showed a device called "Drucker" from Palm arriving in July 2008. I have not read any new information on this rumored device. After reviewing the device stats listed on a slided posted on Gizmodo, the Drucker looks to be the GSM version of the Treo 800w due out on Sprint here in the United States as it is expected to replace the Treo 750 in the Vodaphone smartphone line up. This of course, opens the door to a launch later in the year on AT&T and/or an unlocked version becoming available directly from Palm's online store.

At this point, I am going out on limb and saying that this rumor is probably 80% true. The lack of any new details on Drucker could be a sign that things have changed since January.

"Wanda"
January also brought us news of another European device, "Wanda". Based on the information posted in another leaked Vodafone slide over on Engadget, Wanda appears to be a GSM Windows Mobile version of the EVDO Palm OS Centro. (Palm did admit in a recent conference call that the Treo 500v wasn't selling as well as they had initially hoped.)

Of the specs on the slide, this device will also be a Windows Mobile 6.1 device (just like the Treo 800w and Drucker are rumored to be) and will include a 2.0MP camera.

Wanda is suppose to be launched in September of this year, which is still quite a bit away at this point. While I'm sure that Palm will be looking to capture more marketshare in Europe, the Treo 500v may not be the vehicle Palm wanted it to be. Wanda may be just what the doctor ordered. I'll put this rumor at 60% of being accurate.

"What Else?"
The big question on the minds of fans of the Palm OS is whether or not Palm will be able to make good on their promise to release a successor to the Palm OS 5 platform. The current version of Palm OS 5 is functional, however, it is clearly holding Palm back from delivering the innovative products that they were known for in the late 1990s. I believe, as do the managers at Palm, it is essential to complete Palm OS II/Nova no later than the end of 2008.

To that end, one has to wonder if Palm is under promising and surprise us by over delivering. Many people still remember the disaster the pre-announcment of the m500-series devices had on sales of the Palm Vx and Palm's bottom line. (We won't talk about the gold suit.) More recently, Palm took an embarrassing hit after having pre-announced the Palm Foleo and then later failing to deliver the product.

If Palm has any chance of delivering either a Centro or Treo smartphone, or even a refreshed Palm TX handheld for that matter, before the start of calendar year 2009, I'd expect that those details are on a "need to know" basis only. So what how about it? Do you think that Palm can pull a rabbit out of their hat in December to the wild cheers of the Palm OS user community? I expect any delivery of any device from Palm running Palm OS II/Nova before March of 2009 a long shot at best, I'll say that there is, at best, a 25% chance of this happening.
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