Palm aims for Europe

Palm, Vodafone and Microsoft are to collaborate on a next-generation Treo smartphone for Europe.

It will be targeted at the push email market; a Radicati Group study suggests that only an estimated 2% of business email inboxes worldwide are currently accessed via mobile, and Direct Push Technology is of course available with Windows Mobile 5.0.

Vodafone’s interest is presumably the differentiator that an exclusive on the new Treo will give it – all the major networks promote BlackBerries. Here’s Nick Jeffery, global director of Business Marketing for Vodafone. “The new Treo smartphone will be a market-leading device, which combined with our high-speed 3G/UMTS network and real-time push email, will make this an invaluable business tool.”

Palm has a Windows-based smartphone already available in the States, the 700W, on which Direct Push is promoted heavily. The 700W is exclusive to Verizon – and coincidentally Vodafone has a 45% stake in Verizon, at least for now (some of the group’s big investors are pushing Vodafone to sell it).

Palm has been pushing hard for a European presence, winning the support of Orange and O2 recently. It set up an R&D centre in Dublin at the end of last year, apparently tasked with getting rid of the Treo’s stubby antenna. This is perceived in Europe as being rather outdated and unfashionable, and the new Treo will presumably be unsullied by bumps.