The Palm Treo Pro is easily one of the most anticipated product releases in the company's history. And riding the wave of the Centro smartphone, and the 2 million units the company has sold, Palm was in a position to capitalize nicely on its marketplace momentum with Treo Pro's release today.
And all looked good for the Treo Pro. Leaked photos of the device sent the blogosphere into a tizzy. The phone looked good, it had the pedigree of Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6.1, it had all the bells and whistles necessary to compete nicely with Research in Motion's Blackberry Bold and other high-end, enterprise oriented smartphones on the market or coming to market soon. And the early feedback has been glowing.
In fact, Palm CEO Ed Colligan told me as much when I sat down with him this week to talk about the Treo Pro's release. This is precisely what IT managers have been clamoring for, and with its Wi-Fi and GPS, a removable battery, a real world-phone, and all that comes with a Windows Mobile device, this was supposed to be a homerun. And it sounded like one, until our conversation turned to price.
The Centro, at $99 -- or far less depending on the deal you can strike, has killed Palm's margins and average selling prices, or ASPs. This company was in dire need of a higher end, higher margin device that could juice those categories. And Colligan felt the pressure to deliver. But companies always have to balance a higher price with what the customer is willing to pay, and what competitors are charging for their products.