Palm (Nasdaq: PALM ) is back from a brief European vacation, just in time for the new school year. On September 12, press reports say, Palm, which is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection, will launch its newest Treo smartphone in the U.K.
The news follows up from last month's announcement of a deal with Britain's VodafoneGroup (NYSE: VOD ) , in which the carrier agreed to resell the Treo in Europe before the end of the year. But that was conditional on Palm earning compliance with long-standing European pollution guidelines. Now it appears it has.
Good timing, too. Palm should be able to get its newest Treo into the hands of interested resellers before the all-important holiday shopping season heats up. But will they be interested? Probably on some level, though rivals have earned plenty of momentum. Consider Motorola (NYSE: MOT ) . Its Q smartphone has earned a following since its debut last month. And pre-production models of Nokia's (NYSE: NOK ) latest -- the E62 -- are already winning praise.
Nevertheless, the new Treo could be competitive. Press reports suggest that Palm's latest, which is expected to be once again based on Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT ) Windows Mobile operating system, will catch up to competitors by building in support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Just don't expect a "catch-up" release to generate much enthusiasm. It won't, because it shouldn't. Palm has the unfortunate distinction of being in a market that's measured by features and functions. Users check the checklists, and buy the coolest devices. Carriers such as Deutsche Telekom's (NYSE: DT ) T-Mobile and Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) know this, too. That's why their stores stock, and promote, the phones that earn "must have" status.
It's been too long since the Treo was a "must-have" among phoneaphiles. Management must a find a way to restore Treo's premium rep if investors have any hope of reaping meaningful long-term gains from the stock. So, make September 12 special, Palm. Don't just play catch-up; surprise us.
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Microsoft and Vodafone Group are Motley Fool Inside Value picks.
Fool contributorTim Beyersstill owns a Treo 650, which he beats up every day. Tim owns shares in Nokia. Get the skinny on all the stocks he owns by checking Tim's Foolprofile. The Motley Fool'sdisclosure policyis never on hold.