PalmOne pledges to boost Treo shipments

And Palm OS takes lead over Symbian, Windows

PalmSource today trumpeted research findings that indicate the Palm OS is the US' leading smart phone operating system, even as its former owner, PalmOne, was promising to end the supply problems that have hindered sales of its Treo 600 handset.

PalmSource's numbers come from US market watcher NPD, which tracks retail sales. During March, 47 per cent of the smart phones sold in the US through retail were based on the Palm OS, 20 per cent were based on the Symbian OS and the Series 60 UI (ie. Nokia and Sony Ericsson) and another 20 per cent used either of Microsoft's two smart phone-oriented Windows Mobile variants.

NPD attributed the Palm OS' success to "rising" Treo 600 sales. Samsung and Kyocera also offer Palm-based smart phones.

Earlier this week, PalmOne's Wireless Business Unit chief, Ed Colligan, told The Register that the company had put in place supply deals that will improve the availability of Treo 600s going forward.

PalmOne expects to ship 160,000 smart phones worldwide in the current quarter, which ends this month, though Colligan would not be drawn on the company's forecasts for coming quarters beyond stating the total will be "more" than the current quarter. He did admit that since the handset's introduction last Autumn, demand has outstripped Handspring's and now PalmOne's ability to produce enough phones.

In particular, he highlighted problems getting hold of colour LCD panels as manufacturers struggle to cope with increased demand following the market's downturn through recent years. Colligan said new supply deals would allow PalmOne to ramp up supply in the mid-June timeframe.

Such deals may form the basis for recent claims in the Far Eastern press that the company has signed HTC to produce future Treos. Some PalmOne observers believe that points to the anticipated Treo 610 handset, but it could equally cover extra production of the 600. The Chinese langauge report in the Commercial Times suggested shipments from HTC are not expected to begin until September - a sign PalmOne is gearing up for next Christmas, perhaps?

The extra units coming off the company's production lines - well, it's contract manufacturers' production lines - will be targeted at US and European buyers, the two key markets PalmOne smart phone operation is focusing its attention upon.

Colligan offered the prospect of new deals with carriers coming later this year in both regions. According to an investment bank report published earlier this month, PalmOne is on the verge of signing a deal with Verizon, the one remaining US wireless carrier that does not yet offer the Treo 600. The report claimed that the 610 would be offered by Verizon, and indeed the carrier may well have demanded a slight variation on the 600 the better to differentiate its offering from those of other carriers. ®

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