Palm v RIM Gets Hot

5:55 PM -- Shares of Palm Inc. staged a modest rally today after sinking 14 percent on Friday, when the mobile device maker said it would will halt sales of the Treo 650 in Europe because the popular smartphone doesn't meet new EU standards on lead content.

Smartphone giant BlackBerry , meanwhile, was down 2 percent today after enjoying its first surge of 2006 on Friday, on forecasts that it will add between 675,000 and 700,000 subscribers during the upcoming three months.

So, let me get this straight: Palm's net income zoomed up 54 percent, sales rose 20 percent, annual revenue for this year is predicted to grow almost 25 percent, and sales of the Treo have topped $1 billion a year -- and the stock drops 14 percent? RIM, meanwhile, saw its quarterly profit slide, even as sales rose 35 percent in the face of increasing competition, and its shares go up by almost 6 percent.

To be sure, Palm was up by close to 18 percent this year before Friday's debacle, and the comparison chart of the two device makers tracks ever closer. I think Wall Street, which for years has thought RIM could do no wrong, is finally starting to see what we hear from IT pros on an almost daily basis: The new Treos are increasingly outshining BlackBerries as enterprise-ready devices, particularly on value -- and with the market entry of the ballyhooed Q, from Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), RIM's days of nonchalant dominance in the smartphone business are quickly waning.

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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