Palm plans to sell 'unlocked' Treo Pro

Palm is planning to sell an unlocked version of the Treo Pros in the US and Europe, an InfoWorld Daily report said.

The decision to sell an unlocked Treo Pro, Palm's newest smartphone aimed squarely at enterprise customers, could either be the start of a new trend or a sign that the struggling company may face even harder times to come, one analyst said.

The unlocked smartphone won't be marketed, sold, and subsidized by an operator.

'It may be the beginning of a trend, but it may also be a bad sign,' said Bill Hughes, an analyst with In-Stat.

While he said he had no reason to think this is the case, there is a chance that Palm couldn't find an operator interested in picking it up.

In Europe, O2 and Vodafone will sell the Treo Pro, which will also be available unlocked. Unlike in the United States, it's common in Europe for people to be able to easily buy unlocked phones. Telstra will sell it in Australia.

The Treo Pro, which runs Windows Mobile and includes Wi-Fi and GPS, will become available later this year on Palm's online store as well as from other internet sites, retailers, and enterprise resellers.

While there are reasons that some enterprises might be interested in buying unlocked devices, Palm might struggle to sell the new Treo to individuals without the help of operators.
In a recent survey of technology users, Hughes found that 85% of them bought their phones in an authorized retail store, such as an operator shop or a store like RadioShack that has deals with operators to sell phones.

But buying unlocked phones can allow an enterprise buyer to better negotiate with mobile operators, Hughes further said.