Palm's magic act makes Treo Pro 850 appear, disappear

Inexplicably, for the second time in four days, Palm has leaked and then pulled information from the Web about its (still forthcoming?) Treo Pro (a.k.a. Treo 850) smartphone, a product originally slated for announcement today.

Last Thursday, Palm briefly posted an entire Flash presentation about the new phone on its own Web site. A few minutes later, the whole presentation was taken down, but not before being captured by various bloggers for redistribution all over the Web.

Then, this morning, a press release about the phone was sent out on Palm's behalf via news multimedia distribution service NewsMarket.com, which then distributed e-mails to journalists entitled "Palm Unveils Treo Pro Smartphone."

By not much later in the day, however, NewsMarket's link to the press release was broken, with reporters receiving an error message that the page could no longer be found. The press materials weren't available on Palm's own Web site, either.

Based on repostings of Palm's flash presentation and press materials, though -- including these screen caps posted by a blog that now appears devoted to gathering all bits of information Palm inadvertently leaked -- the Treo Pro is clearly an attempt by Palm to come in at the high end versus the company's lower-cost, consumer-oriented Centros.

Evidently scalable to enterprise use, the Pro (850) offers a 2.4-inch, 320x320 touchscreen LCD and a form factor that's much thinner, at 0.55-inches, than earlier Treos.

Palm now badly needs a competitive higher-priced phone to help reclaim market share lost to Apple's iPhone and RIM's Blackberry and to return the company to profitability.

But Palm has yet to provide any explanation behind magic tricks involving the sudden appearance and disappearance of details about the phone twice in less than a week.

Meanwhile, inquiries from BetaNews to both Palm and NewsMarket.com have gone unanswered so far. For Palm's sake, here's hoping that the Treo Pro 850 turns out to be more effectual than the promotional campaign behind it.

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