Over the last six months it has slowly become clear to me that rumors of future Palm Treo smartphones have gotten completely out of hand. Almost every day there is a new rumor or blurry photograph, and, while many of these seem plausible when they are first being circulated, very few of them actually turn out to be true.
Late last year, a supposed roadmap for upcoming Palm smartphones was posted on virtually every Palm-related web site. It gave many details on a number of Treos that were expected to come out in 2006, and a a large number of people immediately accepted it as gospel.
The problem is, a few months later, there is little evidence to back up this roadmap.
A Roadmap to Nowhere
While Palm hasn’t yet made any kind of official statement, there is almost overwhelming evidence that the next Treo will be coming from Sprint. Hardware-wise it will be essentially identical to the Windows Mobile-powered Treo 700w but run the Palm OS instead.
There is absolutely no mention of this device on the supposed roadmap.
It isn’t as clear-cut a failing, but the roadmap also never talks about a GSM/GPRS version of the Treo 700w. It would be stunning if Palm didn’t come out with this some time this year. The current version can only be used in the U.S., and there are many, many thousands of people around the world ready, willing, and able to put money on the table to buy this device. I can’t imagine Palm being so foolish as to ignore them.
In addition, a very reliable source has told Brighthand that the super-slim Treo, code-named “Hollywood,” that was listed on the roadmap is a fantasy. There simply won’t be any such device.
To be honest, I’m not too upset about this. A big reason current Treos are so bulky is because they have big batteries and thus long battery lives. That’s something I’d hate to give up.
What We DO Know
Fortunately, we aren’t forced to completely depend on rumors.
Just a few weeks ago, Palm’s CEO said once again that his company still plans to release three more new smartphones before the end 2006.
While talking about these new Treos, Ed Colligan said, “When I say new smartphones, I am referring to a combination of operating systems, new hardware designs, new radio technologies, or other significant advancements.”
He also, for the first time, made a vague reference to offering a wider range of price points. Until now, all Treo models have been priced well beyond most peoples’ budgets when they first debuted.
Not surprisingly, Colligan also expressed strong support for Windows Mobile, and promised more smartphones running this operating system. He’d be a fool not to, as the Treo 700w has been selling like hotcakes.
Old Rumors Meet New Speculation
Just because I think the supposed roadmap that came out last year is of questionable accuracy doesn’t mean everything on it is bunk. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
For example, Colligan seems to be hinting that Palm is prepping a lower-cost Treo, something that was on the roadmap. This probably isn’t going to be so cheap that it’s one of those models that you get free with a contract, but it won’t be as expensive as previous smartphones from Palm were.
I haven’t heard anything solid on what this smartphone will offer, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it will be the first Treo with a numberpad instead of a keyboard. That’s something else Colligan might be hinting at.
His reference to “new hardware designs” could be talking about something else, though, like a clamshell Treo. Clamshell phones are very popular, something Palm is surely aware of.