Sprint's Treo Pro Launch Delayed

Sprint's expected launch of the Treo Pro isn't going to happen next week as expected. In a leaked memo from the operator to its retailers, the carrier writes:

"The palm Treo Pro will not launch on 2/15/09 as previously communicated. New launch date is TBD. Put aside the Palm Pro fact tags and price strips received in the 2/15 launch window merchandising shipment until device launch."

The carrier gives no indication as to why the release date's been pushed back or when the Treo Pro will finally ship.

When Sprint eventually launches the Treo Pro, it'll be the first U.S. carrier to do so directly. The smartphone should sell for $200 with a service contract.

The Treo Pro has been available unlocked to customers of GSM operators (e.g. AT&T and T-Mobile) for several months now. Vodafone offers that edition in Europe.

For Sprint, the Treo Pro will take the place of the Treo 800w, which, although it was launched last summer, and isn't that old, really, has run into a lot of technical problems.

More on Treo Pro
The Treo Pro is a solid addition to the once heralded Treo line of smartphones, even if it sports the usual candy-bar shape, BlackBerry-styled QWERTY thumb-keyboard, and hi-res 320 x 320-pixel touch screen.

The smartphone runs on the latest edition of Microsoft's mobile-device platform, Windows mobile 6.1 Professional. Enhancements to Windows Mobile include a feature that allows you to perform a Web search directly from the Today screen.

Because the current (unlocked) version of the Treo Pro sports a quad-band GSM radio for voice and speedy tri-band UMTS/HSDPA 3G for data access, it is a true world phone that can be used in most international markets. Unless Palm includes a second (GSM) radio in the Sprint edition, the same won’t be true of that carrier’s CDMA/EV-DO (3G) version of the Treo Pro.

There's also Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. Palm's added a convenient button to turn Wi-Fi on and off with this Treo model.

Hardware specs for the 4.5 x 2.4 x 0.5-inch, 4.7-ounce Treo Pro include a 2.0 megapixel camera for picture and video, 128MB of RAM, 256MB of Flash ROM and a microSD card slot for additional storage.

Its 1500 mAh lithium-ion battery is rated to last for 5 hours of talk and up to 250 hours stand-by time.

Additional features include a ringer switch to enable you to quickly silence the Treo Pro, a new voicemail indicator, and a screen saver to lets users know at a glance - without turning on the device - what time it is and whether they've missed a call or have a new SMS/MMS message.

Et Tu Palm Pre?

Palm's been close to Sprint over the years. In addition to the Treo Pro (eventually), Sprint was the first carrier to sell the PDA pioneer's low-cost Centro model, for example. It will also -- sometime later this year -- become the first operator to deliver the Pre, Palm's first device to run on its new Linux-based webOS, and the star of last month's Consumer Electronics show.

The Pre is an iPhone-like smartphone with a BlackBerry-like slid-out keyboard. It has a removable battery and a 3.1-inch touch display that is -- to the chagrin of Apple, which may mount a legal challenge -- multi-touch like the iPhone.

A leaked internal document from Sprint showed that the Pre could arrive in Sprint's warehouses by the middle of March. This would also mean that Pre may hit store shelves on that date as well.

You'd think it is Sprint's interest to get the Treo Pro out before the highly-anticipated Pre. So it is unlikely that the delay in the launch of the former will last for that long. If it does, Sprint and Palm may risk the sales of one cannibalizing the other. That would be a problem for both Palm and Sprint.

For Palm, many analysts see the success of the Pre as a make or break proposition for the company; once the market leader in smartphones, Palm’s struggled to keep up with the Apples, RIMs and Nokias of the world over the last few years.

For Sprint, the Pre is its chance at launching a flagship smartphone, something each of its major rivals have done over the last couple of years. AT&T has the iPhone (of course) and -- to a lesser extent -- the BlackBerry Bold; Verizon's the only carrier wiht the the BlackBerry Storm, RIM's first touch screen model; and T-Mobile is selling the G1, the first smartphone to run on Google’s Android platform.

[oy Genius Report via Brighthand]