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Cingular picks up PalmOne's Treo 650

Cellular company Cingular becomes second major carrier after Sprint PCS to offer Treo 650 smartphone.

Leading cellular company Cingular Wireless has picked up PalmOne's Treo 650, making Cingular the second major carrier to offer the smart phone.

The companies announced Wednesday that the Treo 650 will now run on Cingular's wireless network and will sell for $549.99 without a service commitment and $449.99 with a two-year contract. While consumers can buy the device starting Wednesday, they won't ship for another week or two, according to the PalmOne Web site. The phones will be available in select Cingular retail stores later this week.

For consumers already under a service contract with any GSM/GPRS carrier, PalmOne is also offering the Treo 650 without a service plan or contract for $599. Consumers who buy the phone will need to get a data plan in addition to a voice plan to make calls and wirelessly access the Internet.

The Treo line of phones is increasingly becoming the main focus for PalmOne. While the handheld pioneer continues to be the market leader in the handheld industry, overall shipments of handhelds continue to slide. In 2004, they dipped below 10 million for the first time since 1999, according to research company IDC.

In other PalmOne news, CEO Todd Bradley resigned last week. Analysts credited him with helping to stabilize the company but said the resignation was the right move and that new leadership is needed to make PalmOne into more of a wireless device company.

The Cingular announcement should help move PalmOne in the wireless direction. Cingular--a joint venture between SBC Communications and BellSouth--is the second major carrier to sell the Treo 650, behind Sprint PCS. Cingular has about 49 million subscribers.

The Treo 650 is a combination cell phone and organizer with a keyboard allowing owners to surf the Web, send and receive e-mail and make phone calls. The device includes a high-resolution screen, a digital-audio player, a removable battery, Bluetooth and non-volatile memory.

The Treo 650 will be able to use Cingular's Enhanced Data for Global Evolution (EDGE) network, allowing it to access data at average speeds of up to 135kbps.