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Palm sets sights on Europe with 500v

Device manufacturer Palm lifted the curtain on its latest device on Wednesday, the Windows Mobile 6-powered Treo 500v.

Built for a European audience – a market Palm has been trying to crack for some time – the device also heralds the main thrust of Microsoft’s push into the mass market.

With its rounded corners, the 500v is Palm’s most compact model to date and packs 3G/UMTS connectivity, a full keyboard, a 2 megapixel camera, and push email functionality.

The device will initially be available exclusively to Vodafone customers in Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the UK and Vodacom customers in South Africa.

John Hartnett, senior vice president of Global Markets at Palm, told telecoms.com that this device had been built to tackle the elusive European market. “Seventy five per cent of our business is in the US,” he said, “but 80 per cent of are opportunities are outside of the US.”

Hartnett sees smartphone adoption slipping further down the value chain to the mass market. Driven by the younger audience he anticipates smartphones to own about 30 per cent of the mobile device market by 2011, a phenomenon he intends to capitalise on with the company’s recently announced dual platform approach – Linux and Windows Mobile. Although new PalmOS-based devices will continue to debut this year, Linux will take over from the PalmOS platform in 2008.

But the 500v also spearheads the dive into a new market for Microsoft as well. Alex Reeve, director of the Mobile Communication Business group at Microsoft, told telecoms.com the device marked a push into the mass market, for a company typically associated with the enterprise space.

Last fiscal year, the company experienced 44 per cent growth in Windows Mobile shipments as the number devices shifted topped the 1 million mark. Going forward, Reeve sees features such as the inclusion of push email for both business and personal services and the Windows Live offerings as key to this strategy.

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