Palm, Vodafone Pre-announce GSM Windows Mobile Treo

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It can’t exactly be called an official announcement, but Palm, Inc. and Vodafone have given the first indication that a Windows Mobile-based Treo will be coming to the international giant’s GSM network sometime this year.

According a press release put out today, “The Palm Treo smartphone that will result from this collaboration will represent an industry first by operating on Vodafone’s 3G/UMTS network and delivering the hallmark Palm experience on top of the Microsoft Windows Mobile operating system.”

The release goes on to say, “The new Treo smartphone will be available first to Vodafone customers in multiple European countries, including the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Netherlands, before the end of the calendar year.”

This announcement seems to be saying that this device will be available in Europe before is is launched in any other part of the world. If this is true, it will signal a departure for the company, which has traditionally been weak in Europe for a variety of reasons, including the lack of support for the classic Palm OS, the company’s long design and turnaround time, and their relatively uninspiring device designs.

The release goes on to talk extensively about email, and notes that this second Windows Mobile Treo will feature Microsoft’s Exchange push system, as well as 3G data. No actual specs or solid information is to be found, but the talk clearly is centered around this new device as a business unit, rather than attempting to target the consumer.

Rumors and Rumors of Rumors

Much talk has been made of a rumor originated by Sagio Investments late last year that Palm would be releasing a “fancier,” “more stylish” 3G Treo called “Hollywood” designed for Europe some time this year. However several missed launch dates, as well as reports from reliable sources debunking the original claim, have cast considerable doubt on the details of this report.

Somewhat more reliable are images allegedly obtained from internal Cingular documents that depict two GSM-based Treos, scheduled for launch in or around October. Aside from the removal of the external antenna (required by CDMA carriers, but not by GSM) the devices are identical to the already launched Treo 700 models.

One of the forthcoming devices is depicted running Windows, the other using Palm OS. This would fit Palm’s established pattern of releasing a GSM equivalent to their CDMA models several months after the original devices, with minimal modifications. The Windows device, whose code-name is listed as “Lennon” in the documentation, is marked as having UMTS, and possibly Wi-Fi as well. Of its Palm OS companion, even less is known.

Also circulating is a blurry photo reputedly taken by a Microsoft testing contractor of a Palm-branded GSM device which features Windows Mobile 5.0 and UMTS support..

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