Microsoft to push VoIP on Windows Mobile
A week or two ago I was reading an article which talked about how wireless carriers were leery of Microsoft gaining too much marketshare in converged devices, because then Microsoft would be able to dictate things like media formats, and technology adoption. And you know what? I think that this is exactly the sort of thing the carriers wanted to avoid.
At last week’s 3GSM World Conference, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer demonstrated a new application suite for Windows Mobile-based phones which allows the user to make Skype-style Voice-over-IP phone calls for free. The feature is part of a new Windows Mobile version of Microsoft Office Communicator that the company plans to launch some time this year. But the stock analysts aren’t waiting for the release to talk about the ramifications. The Business Online article cites an analyst at Westhall Capital who discusses the devastating effect that free business VoIP would have on carrier revenues, even from businesses that didn’t immediately move to VoIP, but rather demanded competitive prices. It’s one of the few times that you’ll see the word “bloodbath” used in a financial trade paper.
The largest European wireless carriers, though, are acting confident–at least publically–that Microsoft’s new VoIP push isn’t a major threat. They seem to be relying on Microsoft’s well known habit of tripping over its own feet when trying to push a new technology will forestall any potential disaster. If I were them, though, I wouldn’t be so confidant. Microsoft may be known for fumbling, but the carriers are in an unenviable position, running on overinflated prices and an infrastructure designed around the principle of controlling what the user is able to do. This might be profitable in the short term, but new technologies have a habit of breaking these business models.
Palm offers discount Treos in UK, Europe
If you live in Europe, and want to buy a Treo, here’s your chance. Palm is running a “private” sale (which is open to everyone with an older Palm device), offering a new unlocked Treo 650 for 319 ( 465, or about US$556) directly from their online store. Alternatively, you can buy either an unlocked or carrier-branded T650 elsewhere and be given a rebate of 70 (approximately 102 or $122).
To get in on the offer, you need to provide the serial number of an existing Palm device, and choose whether you want to shop at Palm’s store, or at an authorized retailer. The deal is valid in the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.
Rumor: Palm to offer new Treos in July, plus another Windows Treo
Take this for what you will: it’s rumor, and there’s an absurdly low signal to noise ratio in Treo rumors these days. But a report out of last week’s 3GSM, made to palmInsider by a reader called Camus claims that Palm’s next Treo release will be some time this July, and that of the three additional Treos yet to be announced, two run on Palm OS and one runs Windows Mobile.
This rumor would seem to fit either of the two major theories about the remainder of Palm’s Treo releases this year. One theory says that the three new Treos include a GSM version of the 700w, as well as CDMA & GSM versions of the predicted 700p.
The main alternate theory suggests that the next three are the 700p, a low-end or mid-range device usually referred to as “Lowrider,” and a high-end GSM device aimed mainly at the European market called “Hollywood.” Hollywood has been speculated by some to be Windows Mobile based, since Europe has little market for Palm OS. All of this information, though, is speculative.
In the end, it comes down to whether Palm counts the CDMA and GSM versions of a particular design as being different models. If they do, then we’ve already got more or less a lock on the remaining releases. If they don’t, everything’s up in the air.
“History of Palm” video
It’s time for a flashback. If you’re interested in the evolution of the device that basically kicked the handheld computing market into high gear, there’s a video on Google that you may wish to watch. The “Palm Pilot Story” is from a lecture given back in 2002 at the Computer History Museum by Palm bigshots Jeff Hawkins, Donna Dubinsky, and Ed Colligan. Most of the lecture concerns the early history of the Palm Pilot project, including the engineering of the first Palm, the famous “tap counter,” starting Handspring, and the beginnings of the Treo line.
It’s not all ancient history, though. The video also offers some interesting insights into the relatively recent past, including non-denial denials of a future interest in mobile Linux, and a flashback to the 1990s era when venture capitalists were more interested in Netscape than they were in mobile hardware.