CES: The Microsoft Palm

LAS VEGAS -- Consumer Electronics Show -- Verizon Wireless today started selling the first ever PalmOne Inc. (Nasdaq: PLMO) smartphone based on Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Windows operating system, a move that would have seemed inconceivable just a few years ago.

The Windows Mobile Treo smartphone will run over Verizon's 3G EV-DO cellular data network, which will offer users average download speeds of 300 to 500 Kbit/s.

The phone -- first announced last September and previewed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates in his opening keynote on Wednesday night -- is aimed at high-end consumers and enterprise users. (See Palm, Microsoft Collaborate .)

Microsoft hopes to score a hit with the new device as part of its bid to lure Northern American enterprise users away from their favored BlackBerry BlackBerry devices, and encourage European smartphone users to consider using something other than Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) communicators.

According to market researcher Gartner Inc. , RIM is number one in the U.S. PDA market, with Palm a distant number two and Microsoft-based devices pulling in third. Nokia dominates in the rest of the world. (See RIM Picks Intel for Blackberry.)

Microsoft is hoping to change that and will follow the Palm launch with Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)'s Windows Mobile Q smartphone later this year.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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