Palm and Cingular Wireless have finally announced the details of their product launch. The Treo 680 will be available on Friday November 24th for as little as $199 with a 2 year contract and unlimited data plan.
We were notified of the details earlier today via a webinar from Palm and Cingular, but have been under a non-disclosure agreement until now. Pricing and Availability
Both Palm and Cingular will release the Treo 680 on Friday November 24th, 2006 just in time for the Holiday shopping season. It will be available nationally from from Cingular retail stores, select National retailers, Cingular.com, Cingular B2B Sales, and the Palm.com Online Store
Cingular will be offering the Treo 680 to new and existing customers for $199 in exchange for a 2-year agreement and committment to Cingular's unlimited data plan. It will be priced at $274.99 for a 1-year agreement and $499.99 unlocked.
I was able to ask and get a definitive answer that Cingular will only be offering the Graphite model (above), not any of the other colors.
For email options, Cingular will be supporting Good Mobile Messaging, direct Exchange Active Sync, and their Cingular Xpress Mail. Xpress Mail is an application for corporate or home users that allows their mail to be forwarded from a desktop computer connected to the internet.
Cingular will also be offering their new TeleNav GPS Navigation solution for the Treo 680. The 680 doesn't have an internal GPS unit, but Cingular has a Bluetooth GPS unit that is about the size of two credit cards for under $100. The TeleNav GPS service provides turn-by-turn voice directions and 3D maps. The monthly access fee is $9.99 for up to 10 routes. Additional routes involve additional fees.
Palm will be offering unlocked GSM Treo 680's in all 4 colors from their website for $399. The available colors are crimson, copper, arctic and graphite. When purchased from Palm, it will be bundled with a free 30-day trial of Yahoo Music, a 1 GB SD card, and some other accessories. The bundle is estimated to be valued at $130.Palm's Strategy with the Treo 680
The Treo 680 is clearly designed to expand Palm's customer base. It is targeted toward "feature phone" users that are looking to move to a true, full-featured "smart device". According to Palm, its intended users are younger, on the road, spending their own money, trying to balance work and home life, and are interested in technology but not complexity. In order to address this, Palm has had to overcome previous barriers to this, such as price, ease of use, and support. With the Treo 680, they have addressed all of these barriers.
First, the $199 price-point at launch should allow this device to compete more favorable with similar offerings from other device manufacturers and carriers. Its also likely that the price point will drop over time as is typical for the mobile phone market.
Second, Palm has developed a new, very easy to use call management application for the Treo 680 and has included its new intuitive threaded chat/email application. See below for more details. Palm has always stood for ease-of-use and they continue to make enhancements to the usability of their Treo smartphones.
Third, Palm has set up a brand new support desk for Treo 680 customers to get help configuring their email and using their new device. The support is available free to new customers for 90 days.
However, despite the benefits of the Treo 680 for direct consumers, Palm feels that it will also sell well into corporations. The functionality of the device coupled with the new lower price-point should allow companies to expand deployment to a much larger employee base.
Palm specifically stated that the Treo 680 was the replacement for the Treo 650. So expect the 650 to be discontinued after everyone's stock is gone.
Palm also referred to the Treo 680 as a "platform". The phone is a quad-band GSM "World" phone. They stated that the phone would be released throughout the world. Their use of the word "platform" leads us to believe that they plan on releasing variations on it in the future. Perhaps a CDMA version? Maybe even a Windows Mobile version? They certainly weren't going to talk about any of that, but its possible that they are planning on these things.
Palm doesn't feel that the Treo 680 will canabalize their sales of other products like the Treo 700 series. With their target audience for the Treo 680, they clearly expect to expand
their marketshare. However, we all know that some folks will choose the 680 over its more expensive brethren. It is likely, though, that at this price-point, total sales of Treo's should increase significantly.Treo 680 Features
The Treo 680 offers a number of enhanced features over its predecessor, the Treo 650. Here are some of the enhanced features along with information that was gleaned from the webinar and Q&A; session.
-- Added memory
: The Treo 680 smartphone includes 64MB of user-available storage, nearly three times the memory of the original Treo 650 smartphone. Customers can add up to 2GB of storage with expansion cards for those large music or video files (sold separately);
-- Enhanced email and messaging
: Exchange ActiveSync will now synchronize not only calendar and email, but contacts as well; SMS and MMS capabilities have been improved for a better user experience; The Treo 680 includes Palm's new threaded Chat/Email application that is intuitive to use. It integrates SMS and Email into a single application and displays responses along with the original messages so that its easy to follow particular conversations.
In addition, Cingular customers will be able to use the Good Mobile Messaging product to receive true push-email.
-- Improved web browser
: The Blazer 4.5 browser is superfast due to its smarter caching rules and includes alternate modes for viewing web pages optimized for the device or as a regular web page;
-- Enhanced multimedia
: Customers can use the Treo 680 smartphone to stream music, play MP3s and manage and share photo albums; Pocket Tunes is pre-loaded on the Treo 680. This allows streaming audio and video content, such as streaming radio via live365.com, podcasts, etc.
-- Enhanced Call Management Features
: Palm has enhanced their phone application to simplify in-call tasks, such as handling conference calls, call waiting, and turning on the speakerphone. Users can see images of all users in a conference. Phone numbers can be dialed directly from a web page or email address. Users can easily customize their "favorites" tab for contacts, websites, and applications. Preset SMS messages can automatically be sent to callers when you are busy.
The new Treo 680 phone application has the following tabs:1. Dial Pad
5. Call Log
-- Built-in dial-up networking (DUN) capabilities
: Customers can use the new smartphone as a wireless modem via Bluetooth(R) wireless technology to connect to a compatible Bluetooth enabled laptop; The EDGE protocol is used for this, offering speeds up to 3x faster than traditional dial-up access. While there are now faster data access protocols, EDGE was chosen because of its widespread coverage here in the U.S. and in over 115 countries worldwide as well as its lower cost to manufacture.
-- Microsoft Office Documents and PDF Files
: Customers can view, edit and share Microsoft Word and Excel documents on their Treo 680 smartphones in addition to viewing full-featured Adobe PDF files and Microsoft PowerPoint presentations; The PDF viewer now supports graphics as well as text and preserves the layout.
-- Bluetooth 1.2
: Customers can connect wirelessly to other Bluetooth enabled devices. The Treo 680 has improved car-kit and headset support, and support for multiple simultaneous Bluetooth connections.
-- Improved RF Sensitivity
: Despite the internal antennae, the Treo 680 has improved RF sensitivity over the Treo 650. The internal antennae is also partially responsible for Palm moving the SD Card slot to the left-hand side of the device. That allowed the antennae to be placed right up against the top of the unit for better reception.
More Treo 680 Information
Here are some more tidbits of information about the Treo 680: