Palm has launched the Treo 750v, a Microsoft Windows smartphone tailored for Europe with smart-texting abilities but no built-in Wi-Fi.
The phone, which was pre-announced in August, is Palm's first Windows-based product in Europe, its first to support the European 3G standard UMTS, and its first since the European Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive halted the sale of the Treo 650 in Europe in June.
Vodafone has the device exclusively for three months, and will sell it in European countries including the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland.
In the UK, it will cost from free up to £150, depending on contract. Palm's previous partner Orange is still licensed to sell the Treo 650, according to a Palm spokesman — who acknowledged that the EU RoHS directive made this rather academic.
Vodafone will be selling the device particularly to business customers who are running Microsoft's Exchange Server 2003, said Stephen Noakes, chief marketing officer of Vodafone. "It will appeal to IT managers looking for seamless integration and security," he said.
The device also supports Vodafone's own proprietary email, based on Visto, launched in November, and the BlackBerry connect mobile email client.
However, some analysts were less than excited by the device, claiming that it lacked the wow-factor of some competing devices.
"Palm's new Treo, by contrast [with the BlackBerry Pearl], doesn't look like much fun. In fact, it looks remarkably like a late-model Blackberry", said analyst Jeremy Green of Ovum in an online comment. "There is little doubt that it is positioned as an enterprise workhorse."
The product was less European-ised than had been suggested, but Palm has written its own SMS client software to run on Windows Mobile. This includes the ability to thread text messages and treat them like emails, and to reject phone calls with a text response.
The user interface has a Today screen, which includes emails, phone calls and calendar items, as well as Google search which delivers results tailored for a small screen. The device also allows users to "dial-by-name" with a few keystrokes.
The device has no Wi-Fi because it is still too power hungry, said Ed Colligan, president and chief executive officer of Palm. "It would be negative in terms of the overall user experience."
On the possibility of a version of the phone based around Palm OS, Colligan was evasive: "You may consider we will be doing that, going forward, but in the short term there is only one version."
Devices based on the Palm OS that Palm created have been delayed due to difficulties with the PalmSource software division it sold to mobile software maker Access in 2005.
The company has launched Windows versions of the Treo, and a planned Linux-based version of Palm OS has been delayed.