Palm, Sprint To Announce New Smartphone Together - InformationWeek

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9/26/2007
09:38 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Palm, Sprint To Announce New Smartphone Together

The two companies have invited journalists and analysts to a special press conference tomorrow a la Apple style to announce Palm's latest smartphone. Is Palm shooting itself in the foot or finally on a roll?

The two companies have invited journalists and analysts to a special press conference tomorrow a la Apple style to announce Palm's latest smartphone. Is Palm shooting itself in the foot or finally on a roll?Palm has done a couple things right recently. It canceled the lame-duck Foleo before releasing it to the market, where it would have landed with a thud. That was smart move number one. Semi-smart move number two was its recent introduction of some new hardware over in Europe, specifically the Treo 500v.

While there's nothing super exciting about a new Windows Mobile 6 smartphone (face it, there's a bazillion of them), at least this one is encapsulated in a new shell and doesn't continue the tired-out design of the Treo 600s and 700s. Strangely, the 500v ditches the touchscreen capability of Windows Mobile for a non-stylus experience. Even so, these two things are signs that Palm is at least moving in the right direction.

The Centro, which is most likely the new device in question, is more like treading water. The Centro is not exactly a trend setter when it comes to style, though I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Style issues aside, it comes with the same Palm OS that we've been using for years. And therein lies the problem.

Palm has been hounded lately for squeezing every last possible cent from the years-old design of its platform, and rightly so. Palm had promised a new Linux-based operating system for its smartphones, but its release date keeps getting pushed further and further out. Right now, it'll be sometime in 2008 before we see it.

Another issue is that this device seems to be courting consumers and not enterprises. Even Palm's own language says "youth-focused" when referring to this device. Is that a tacit admission from Palm that it's Garnet OS is no longer viable for the enterprise?

That Palm is finally updating the hardware is a good sign. But it is more important for Palm to update the platform supporting the hardware. Especially if it wants to survive in the enterprise market.

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