Live From CTIA – Sprint and AT&T Announce Treo 650 Plans

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The Treo 650 buzz is hot out here in San Francisco, the site of the CTIA show. Ed Colligan delivered the keynote this morning and the palmOne press machine is busy pumping their latest “Smarter Phone.” As part of the excitement, Sprint and AT&T have both announced plans to release the 650 on their networks.

Sprint will have the CDMA 650 with camera in stores in as little as three weeks (mid-November was the most specific they would give as a date), at a price of $599. Sprint will offer $150 off of the 650 to new customers that sign a contract plan with Sprint.  There is no specific upgrade plan for Sprint customer Treo 600 owners, but if you have been a Sprint customer for 18 months and want the new Treo 650 you will be offered the same $150 off rebate as new customers get.  Sprint will also be distributing the non-camera version later in the year.

AT&T, soon to be Cingular, will have the GSM version of the phone on their network in December or January. A price has not been announced yet, but it’s reasonable to assume a price equal to Sprint. AT&T boasts EDGE coverage in a few markets, giving it a huge speed advantage over Sprint PCS. In Europe, Vodaphone has confirmed plans to launch the 650 at the turn of the year.

palmOne claims that they have used the longest ever development and beta test cycle for the current Treo 650 (which is easy to believe due to leaks about the device starting nearly a year ago!) so the problems that they had regarding quality issues and returns with the Treo 600 should not happen (assuming their beta testing was effective).  In addition, supply issues they had with the Treo 600 a year ago should not occur for the 650 due to the fact they are using a different manufacturer and have more suppliers online so that issues with component shortages do not cause delays in manufacturing.

palmOne will also continue to manufacture and sell the Treo 600 as there are many carriers that will be very slow to adopt the Treo 650.  For some carriers we may not see the Treo 650 until this time next year, so until that time they will be selling the Treo 600.  Sprint indicated that they will simply phase out the Treo 600 from their sales line and in order to burn through existing inventory they will enact some price cuts.

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