An interesting development, the newest version of Treo now ships with Microsoft Windows Mobile. This CNet article nails it right on the head – “Treo 700w: a marriage not made in heaven“. It’s an in-depth review, the author has found many pain points with the new handheld and its OS. While I did feel he was being very picky, overall I found him to be scarily accurate. For example, there seems to be a mismatch between the buttons implied meaning and its true function.
Palm didn’t help matters by adding a prominent OK key, which actually means just the opposite. That is, instead of Yes, Go or Forward, it means Cancel, Back or Stop. You use it, for example, to cancel out of a dialogue box or window, to backtrack to a previous screen, or to close a menu without making a choice. It must have been designed by the same person who, in the full-blown Windows, put the Shut Down command in the Start menu.
However, for that one mistake, Palm has succeeded in getting so many other things right. It involved tremendous effort for Palm since this development required them to throw out their existing Palm OS. Is it a move in the right direction? With any dramatic changes you also get a number of new aspects that will not seem to work as they did in the original version. I would echo the authors views, the replacement OS will not appeal to the core Treo user group. I would also add that eventually Treo fans will warm up to the new device. Palm will try to ensure that with the next few software upgrades.
RIM ought to sit up and take notice. It appears to me that if RIM were to guarantee the vitality and appeal of the BlackBerry handhelds, they should take their role as a device and mobile software platform developer seriously. While they are backed up by their decision to stick with the J2Me spec. they must also exploit the generality of the platform by providing more frequent hardware enhancements (not just one upgrade annually). Just providing the best email solution ever is not going to provide the steam necessary to prevent Microsoft from dominating the device space. The BlackBerry is a key device for the corporate user group and I hope it stays so.
To conclude, what is more important to RIM? Handheld sales or revenue from data-flow? I can’t answer that question definitively. RIM will probably continue to license BBConnect to other platforms and vendors to ensure its hold on mobile email. I would strongly suggest a greater share of the handheld market as a higher priority.