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Treonauts 2006 Events, Software & Accessories Roundup

Happy New Year Treonauts!!!  I hope that you had a terrific long weekend and are looking forward to a fantastic Treo-full year ahead.

Standing at the threshold of our coming journey into 2007 we’re leaving a rather eventful 2006 behind us and I wanted to take a quick look back at last year’s events before briefly moving on to what’s ahead for us this year.

Looking Back At 2006:

Events

  • In January we had the launch of the Verizon Treo 700w – the first Windows Mobile Treo.  In the process Palm becomes one of the few technology companies in the world to support multiple operating systems since it also continues to release PalmOS smartphones.
  • Palm celebrated its 10th Anniversary in March and released the Treo 650 Black Tie Limited Edition to conmemorate the moment. 
  • We had the unveiling of the Treo 700p – the first 3G PalmOS Treo – in May which both Verizon and Sprint launched on their US CDMA networks. 
  • In July Palm, Vodafone and Microsoft announced their collaboration for the development of a next-generation Treo smartphone for Europe which would be launched a few months later as the Windows Mobile Treo 750v – the first antenna-less Treo and also the first 3G GSM Treo. 
  • BlackBerry Connect finally became available in the US with Cingular providing support for it on the Treo 650.  No other carrier later provided BBC support which is perhaps indicative of a lack of interest to have BB service on non-RIM devices.
  • After more than 6 months Verizon exclusivity, Sprint finally also launches the Treo 700wx in September and just a few days later Palm officially introduced the Windows Mobile Treo 750v for Vodafone customers.  At the same time the Palm Developer Program was launched to provide the tools to help accelerate the time to market for new Treo applications.
  • The fourth quarter of the year is when things really began to heat up and become interesting.  First and foremost came the unveiling of the slim and sleek Treo 680 smartphone which got me and a great many Treonauts extremely excited.  This was simultaneously followed by the availability of Google Maps – quite possibly the best new Treo application of the year.
  • Palm appointed Y&R as its new worlwide ad agency and announced a $25 million marketing campaign to support the launch of the Treo 680.
  • In November we had a bit of fun seeing Russel Crowe using his Treo in the movie “A Good Year” and on the 22nd of that month (after some rumoured delays) Cingular finally launched the Treo 680 for a smashing $199 while Palm also announced the availability of the Unlocked Treo 680 in four unique colours.
  • Meanwhile, on the first week of December Palm announced that it had signed a perpetual license for the PalmOS Garnet source code helping to squash unfounded rumours that the company might not continue to support this OS in the future.  The same day during its quarterly financial results Palm also announces that Treo sell-through had achieved a record 617,000 units – bringing the total number of Treo smartphones sold in 2006 to a very healthy 2,279,000 units.

Software
Overall I have found 2006 to be a terrible year for Treo software releases with only a handful of entirely new applications truly shining above the rest and even fewer noteworthy upgrades for existing applications.  I partially blame Palm and PalmSource for not providing enough direction, vision and helping to set best practices among the often underfunded developers.  Having said this many of the developers themselves should assume responsibility for their inability to bring better innovation faster to Treonauts.

Three of the best new applications during 2006 included:  #1 Google Maps (image below left), #2 the Telenav over-the-air GPS service (below right) and #3 the latest incarnation of Kinoma 4EX.

  

Accessories
On the accessories front there were thankfully a great many more noteworthy additions in 2006 but overall the quality of many of these products – particularly those offered by top-tier Treo accessory manufacturers – still leave much room for improvement.  In this respect it’s a shame that whereas Apple’s iPod has been able to benefit from an extremely robust and innovative “accessory ecosystem” our Treo has not yet been able to build one quite as extensive.  Hopefully this will begin to change in 2007.

Some of my favourite new Treo accessories during 2006 included:

Cases: although not quite yet perfect (upgraded models coming out soon) I was completely won over by the UltraSlim PocketPouch which I found to be one of the most innovative new case designs of the year thanks to its ultralight and thin leather construction.  A Treo 680 model should be out shortly and I have no doubt that it will prove as popular as the previous one.
SD Cards: the addition of 4GB SD cards proved to be one of my essential accessories for the Treo 700p to store all my music and movies.
Bluetooth Headsets: there were surprisingly few new high-end BT headsets released in 2006 to the exception of the terrific Motorola H700 but the Jabra JX10 nonetheless remained the clear winner.
Battery: bringing an additional 33% of power to both the Treo 650 and Treo 700 the Seidio 2400mAh Extended Battery proved to be a life saver on more than one occasion and its newer 3200mAh Ultra Extended Battery promises to do even more.
GPS: the Palm GPS Navigator Smartphone Edition 2 with TomTom 6 provided us with a terrific value GPS package.

Moving Forward Into 2007:

Events

  • In much the same way Palm launched four unique Treo smartphones last year recent comments by the company’s CEO would seem to indicate that we can expect as many new models or more in 2007 as well – a minimum of two running PalmOS and two running Windows Mobile.  For example, the long anticipated Windows Mobile Cingular Treo 750 should make its debut very shortly (within the next couple of weeks).  I anticipate that both Verizon and Sprint will by the middle of the year also release a slim CDMA Treo.
  • Now that Palm has a firm grip on the PalmOS, anticipation will build for the release of a 3G PalmOS GSM Treo.  However, I don’t expect to see this before the beginning of Q4.  At the same time we will all anxiously wait to see what other improvements and new features Palm’s engineers are able to develop within the PalmOS.
  • I hope that the Palm Developer Program will yield results and that more best practices will be shared among the top 100 software developers to truly accelerate the release of even better applications that address the design issues that I have repeatedly outlined.  At the same time I hope that Palm will consider starting its own annual Palm Developer Conference sometime this year since PalmSource (now owned by ACCESS) shows no signs of relaunching their own.
  • I will be waiting for Palm’s first quarterly report this year to find out exactly how much of an impact on overall unit sales the great value Treo 680 has had and naturallly also expect total Treo sell-through for 2007 to reach 3 to 4 million units.

Separately, this month I will take a close look at my top software and accessories lists to better highlight what improvements I would like to see made to these existing products while also outlining some of the new applications and accessories that I would like to see released in 2007.

Treonauts are always moving forward


Posted by Andrew on January 2, 2007 at 09:09 AM

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Comments

1
by Mike Giuttari | Jan 2, 2007 2:11:26 PM

I love treonauts and read every issue. I use the 700W and there is a function I can't find. One thing I miss from my last phone is a quick voice recorder. As I'm driving around, the ability to record a quick phone number or address is very important. What is the best way to do this on the 700W, or is there an ad-on for the 700W which allows instant (one-touch) voice recording capability?

Thank You,
Mike Giuttari

2
by Bruce Watts | Jan 3, 2007 3:34:16 AM

I enjoy Treonauts very much, but I don't understand the second half of your comment: "No other carrier later provided BBC support which is perhaps indicative of a lack of interest to have BB service on non-RIM devices." Are you referring to customer interest, or carrier interest?

From what I've read both here and elsewhere, many of us consider BBC as THE "killer app" for Palm. If your employer is focused on using Blackberry for email, you're either going to be forced to replace your Treo with a BB, or carry two devices unless your service provider is Cingular. As a Treo owner with Verizon, I find it incredible that BBC has not yet been made available. I also find it frustrating that I can't get an answer from Verizon on when/if they will make BBC available.

I need BBC support now. While I really do love my 700P, I will ultimately have to give up on either Verizon or the Treo platform without BBC.

3
by Joe | Jan 3, 2007 2:23:38 PM

Bruce Watts wrote:

> ... many of us consider BBC as THE "killer app" for Palm.

If your employer offers IMAP access to your mailbox, you can use chatteremail. IMAP is an open standard supported by hundreds of mail-reading applications. It keeps the mail on the server so all your mail readers (desktop, phone, web-based) are always in sync.

While I understand what a pain it can be to work at a company that limits you to closed systems, I'd call chatteremail (and IMAP) the "killer app".

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