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Palm Launches Treo 680 With Google Maps

New York — Palm introduced a new Treo 680 smartphone at the Digital Life show here, that supports Google Maps and is aimed at a broadening the audience for Palm smartphones beyond the mobile professional.

The new GSM/GPRS/EDGE quad-band world phone is also optimized for connections to Yahoo, eBay and Flickr. It is slightly thinner and lighter than previous Palm smartphones and will be sold initially through Palm’s U.S. retail and online stores as an unlocked GSM phone in four colors — crimson, copper, arctic and graphite. Palm said it expects 20 carriers to eventually support the new Palm OS-based phone worldwide.

President/CEO Ed Colligan said, “Today Treos are purchased mostly by mobile professionals. Now we’re trying to reach people who are buying feature phones.” This general demographic is approximately nine times the size of the mobile professional market, said Palm.

The company will launch a $25 million advertising campaign to back the Treo 680 and is offering a free 30-day trial music bundle from Yahoo with a 1GB SD card. The Yahoo Music service provides unlimited access to more than a million songs.

By optimizing the smartphone for eBay, Colligan said users will be able to track their eBay auctions on the go. The Google Maps feature allows access to navigation directions, traffic updates and local searches. Owners of existing Palm Treos will be able to download free Google Maps software from the Internet.

The Treo 680 includes 64MB of RAM and is among the first Palm smartphones with a completely hidden antenna. The 680 offers Bluetooth and IR but not Wi-Fi. It comes with a wired car kit and has new e-mail software that allows views of full PDF file attachments (rather than text extractions). It also supports streaming audio and video and has a built-in camera.

Pricing has not yet been announced for the 680.

Palm said market research from In-Stat estimates that 25 percent of all cellphones worldwide will be smartphones in five years.