Embattled Palm brings Treo 750 to Canada

Palm Canada announced Wednesday the Canadian availability of the Windows Mobile 6-powered Palm Treo 750 smartphone, which will run on the Rogers high-speed packet access (HSPA) network.

Michelle Warren, senior analyst with the Info-Tech Research Group, said that this is a step in the right direction for the sometimes-struggling company. “It’s a good focus—on the business market—where there’s lots of opportunities for them,” she said.

But where there’s opportunity, there’s also competition. Warren, said, “They’re facing stiff competition when it comes to Research in Motion (RIM).”

Palm is countering its rival by offering a lower price-point and a slightly svelter form factor. (Forrester Research principal analyst Charles Golvin, however, said that the Treos will need to slim down even further for a significant boost in the enterprise.)

It also will be running on the ultra-fast HSPA global network, and is backwards compatible with the GSM network (as opposed to the North America-only CDMA network), which, said Warren, will be a tempting incentive to traveling workers.

Consumer-style perks like a camera and mp3/video capability are selling points as well, she said.

The smartphone also boasts broadband-like 3G Internet speed, 128 megabytes of memory, and built-in Bluetooth, along with the ability to function as a modem for laptops.

The new Treo has another advantage over the BlackBerry, said Warren—the new Windows Mobile 6 operating system. This, said Warren, offers currency, including covetable interoperability with key Microsoft productivity applications, like Word, Excel, and even PowerPoint.

Said Warren: “It offers pretty good synchronization.” The Windows Mobile 6 angle also allows Palm the opportunity to offer this Treo for bundling with other Microsoft offerings, something that isn’t really feasible with devices powered by its own OS.

Warren said that Palm also has an advantage in that it’s coming out ahead of the majority of the hardware vendors with its implementation of Windows Mobile 6 (although it’s behind HP). While it’s a head-start, the popularity of a Windows-based mobile OS will inspire many other vendors to enter the space, increasing competition. “They have to win that battle, and then come out and beat RIM, too,” said Warren, who pointed out that Palm has to contend with RIM’s extremely strong brand recognition.

Another advantage that RIM has over Palm is its BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), according to Golvin. “They have a whole infrastructure put in place,” he said. “The BES is a very complete solution that is pretty consistently locked-in for the enterprise. It’s pretty unlikely that the company will ditch (their BlackBerrys) if they’ve already sunk in a lot of money.”

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