When last I wrote about Palm (Nasdaq: PALM ) , the Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection was returning from a brief European vacation and readying a new Treo for the European market. Well, it's here, and at least the phone, if not its prospects for Palm, looks pretty good.
Actually, the Treo 750v looks frighteningly like Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM ) BlackBerry. (Seriously.) But that's where the similarities end. Instead of the "catch-up" release that I feared Palm would resort to in an attempt to keep pace with RIM, Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) , and Motorola (NYSE: MOT ) , the new Treo boasts a number of new software features that seem worthwhile.
For example, Palm says that Treo users will use touch-screen buttons to rewind or fast-forward through voice mail and to rapidly develop text messages in response to ignored calls. Such features are conveniences mostly, but it's also exactly the kind of geeky stuff that a smartphone owner like me -- I own a Treo 600 -- craves.
Plus, the phone is practical. The new Treo is based on the Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system, which means that support for a slew of Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) productivity software -- including Word and Excel -- is built-in.
But it's the cool factor that matters most for upscale consumer devices like smartphones. Palm seems to have regained it with this release, though the ultimate arbiter of hip is likely to be none other than Vodafone (NYSE: VOD ) , which will be the first to distribute the new Treo.
That's both good and bad. Good, because Vodafone is a major player in Europe. Bad, because, well, Vodafone is a major player in Europe. As one of the heavies in the region, Vodafone has to sell everything, including the BlackBerry, which already has a following in Europe.
Nokia, too, is huge on the continent thanks to its Helsinki, Finland headquarters and its embrace of the highly popular Symbian mobile operating system. Perhaps that's why I find it difficult to get excited by the 750v's prospects for Palm; it's stuck between a conflicted carrier and entrenched rivals.
Meanwhile, Palm last week reported lower-than-predicted preliminary results for its 2007 first quarter. Specifically, sales are now expected to come in between $354 million and $356 million, as opposed to earlier guidance of $380 million to $385 million. At the time, CEO Ed Colligan said that forthcoming launches, including the new European Treo, would reignite growth.
But can it really? A strong software engineering effort says yes, but the decision lies elsewhere, with European carriers and their customers, who've long proven to be just as fickle as their North American cousins.
Brace yourself, Fool; this European invasion could meet plenty of resistance.
Dial 'F' for related Foolishness:
- Palm's dream of Europe is no longer wishful thinking.
- Perhaps that's why some Fools consider it to be a value play?
- It'll need some earnings help from the Treo first.
Palm is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Ask for us anall-access passand you'll get a backstage look at all of the stocks that are helping David and Tom Gardner beat the S&P 500 by nearly 40% as of this writing. It's free for 30 days. All you have to lose is the prospect of a richer portfolio.
Microsoft and Vodafone Group are Motley Fool Inside Value picks.
Fool contributorTim Beyersstill owns a Treo 600, 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.