With all of the hype and discussions surrounding the iPhone, many potential customers have been put off by the iPhone’s high price tag. Palm, Inc. knows that customers are craving multi-function communication devices that offer “whiz bang” features, and they have just released an answer to this called “Centro.”
Centro is the new low priced “do everything” cell phone powered by the Palm OS that was announced today. Palm has partnered with long time Palm supporter Sprint Nextel for the U.S. launch of Centro. Centro offers a unique opportunity for Palm to regain market share that has been lost to devices powered by the Blackberry Os and Windows Mobile OS. The key to this magic, however, is the US$99.99 price tag that users will enjoy with a multi-year service agreement with Sprint Nextel. The Centro will be available exclusively for the first 90 days from Sprint Nextel only in the U.S. (No word yet on if and when the phone will be available from additional wireless carriers in the U.S., but a GSM version is already available outside the U.S. from Vodaphone, named the “Treo 500v.”)
The Centro runs version 5.4.9 of the Palm OS and features dual-band CDMA2000 EvDO compatibility with backward compatibility with the 1XRTT and IS95 standards. The Centro offers a 320x320 Transreflective color touchscreen with 16-bit color and is able to display up to 65K colors. In addition to Bluetooth 1.2 support, the Centro offers 64MB of RAM with a 1.3 megapixel camera with a 2x digital zoom with video capture ability. The Centro has an 1150mAh lithium-ion battery that delivers 3.5 hours of talk time or 300 hours of standby time. The Centro can be expanded by adding a microSD card up to 4GB. The phone offers a modified QWERTY style keyboard with 6 special function buttons, and a 5-way navigator.
The Centro uses the “candy bar” style form factor in a size of 4.22” (l) x 2.11” (W) x 0.73” (D) and it only weighs an impressive 4.2 oz. The version of the Centro that Sprint will offer is available in either Ruby Red or Onyx Black. The phone features a multi-connector that will plug into your computer’s USB interface for syncing. The Centro will support Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Mac OS X version 10.2 to 10.4.
The Sprint Nextel version of the Centro will feature the following software applications: Bluetooth, Calculator, Camcorder, Camera, Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, Memos, Documents to Go Professional Edition 10, Downloads, Google Mobile Maps, HotSync, Instant Messaging, Nuance Voice Control, My Centro, On Demand, Phone, Pics and Video, Pocket Tunes Deluxe, Quick Tour, Sprint Mobile Email, Sprint Store, Sprint TV, Sudoku, VersaMail 4.0, Voice Memo, Web Browser (Blazer 4.5), and World Clock.
This announcement from Palm does not come as much of a surprise as there had been speculation over the past couple of weeks that a new low cost phone was being added to the Palm lineup. Palm has been making headlines in the past couple of weeks with the announcement of the cancellation of its Foleo product.
The Centro announcement that was made today at the DigitalLife conference was good news for Palm. The general reaction was quite positive because of the $99.99 price point which will help attract consumers who want the features of multi-use phone devices like the iPhone, but can’t afford the iPhone. The Centro, although based on the Palm OS platform can deliver a user experience that is quite multimedia oriented at a price that people are willing to pay.
Questions still remain if Palm can deliver the Centro in sufficient numbers in the October time frame that was announced today. Additional questions also surround the ability of the Palm OS on a device of this caliber due to past negative experiences that many have had with previous Treo products that also run the Palm OS. Still, this could be just the shot in the arm that Palm needs to get back on track if they are able to execute and attract enough attention for the Centro.