RumorMill™: New Evidence of the Treo 610 (Updated)

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Over the past few months, rumors have been making the rounds on the Web that palmOne is planning to announce the Treo 610 in the near future.

There is a great deal of interest in this rumored model, as it’s supposed to offer some significant features the current model — the Treo 600 — lacks, including a higher-resolution screen and Bluetooth wireless networking. Otherwise, it is reportedly almost identical to the Treo 600 (pictured at left).

The source for most of the rumors about the Treo 610 has been BargainPDA.com. In January, it posted what it says is a description of this smart phone. This said the Treo 610 was going to be announced March 1. When this date passed without an announcement, there was a followup article saying that this model would be unveiled on March 12.

New Evidence

One of the best indicators of upcoming handhelds is web retailers accidentally leaking information. These stores frequently have unannounced products in their databases and it is apparently very easy for these to inadvertently make their way onto their web sites, as this happens fairly frequently.

As a case in point, Shopping.com now lists the Treo 610. This is a site that searches the Web and finds the prices for various items. Not surprisingly, Shopping.com doesn’t show any stores offering the Treo 610.

Clearly, this can’t be taken as particularly strong evidence. Some companies have been known to add items to their product databases based on rumors. In addition, the fact that Shopping.com lists it as the “Handspring Treo 610” doesn’t inspire confidence, considering Handspring ceased to exist last fall when it merged with Palm Inc. to become palmOne.

Shopping.com doesn’t give any details of this model, and the picture is one of the stock photos of the Treo 600.

Non-Camera Version

Update: treocentral.com is reporting that a version of the Treo 600 without a built-in camera will be available later this month.

Cameras in smart phones have proved to be quite controversial. Many consumers like them and so do wireless carriers, who charge customers for sending pictures to each other. However, lots of businesses forbid their employees to bring any kind of camera into the office.

It was reported back in November that Sprint PCS was in early talks with palmOne about creating a version of the Treo 600 that completely lacks a camera.

palmOne Weighs In

Last month, a palmOne spokesperson told Brighthand there was no basis for the Treo 610 rumor. As he pointed out, the Treo 600 is still getting rolled out to new wireless carriers. In addition, the Treo 600 is selling faster than palmOne can make it. He asserted that it is simply too early for an updated version.

The Treo 600 smart phone has proved to be a very important product for palmOne. Earlier this month, J.P. Morgan Chase raised its rating on palmOne stock based on strong demand for this smart phone. Since then, the company’s share price has gone up over 15%.

Whether palmOne announces the Treo 610 tomorrow or not, there are definitely going to be new Treo models coming eventually. palmOne CEO Todd Bradley said recently that his company intends to release a whole range of smart phones, from entry-level models to high-end ones.

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