Handspring to Offer All-In-One Unit

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) – Handspring Inc. will soon offer new handheld organizers with built-in cell phone, Web-browsing and e-mail features. The all-in-one devices, which the company will announce Monday but won’t put on store shelves until early 2002, could help revitalize the sluggish market for personal digital assistants, analysts say. “Over the past year, of all the devices that have come out – the Palms, the Handsprings, the Pocket PCs – all of them have given current users very little reason to upgrade,” said Kevin Burden, industry analyst with market research firm International Data Corp. These new products may change that, he said. A compelling feature is the size, analysts say. “No one likes to carry a brick around, and this is the smallest, thinnest, lightest device that has all those combined features,” said Gerry Purdy, chief executive officer of market research firm Mobile Insights. There are two models: the Treo 180 has a tiny keyboard similar to those used in e-mail pagers, and the Treo 180g, which uses Palm’s Graffiti handwriting recognition system. Each model weighs 5.4 ounces, and is 4.3 by 2.7 by 0.7 inches. Each has a flip-up cover that doubles as the earpiece for the phone, and has a monochrome display. Each will cost $399, the company said. A color-screen version, called the Treo 270 and tentatively priced at $599, will be available by mid-2002. Handspring, maker of Visor handhelds using the Palm operating system, has long had a vision of integrating wireless communication capabilities with its PDAs. But its first attempt – the VisorPhone module that attaches to the handheld – has failed to catch on. The bulky module, introduced in December 2000 at a price of $299, is now free with activation with a wireless service provider, Cingular or Voicestream. “Handspring needs a big win and this has to be it,” Burden said of the new Treos. In July, the Mountain View-based company reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $67.2 million and cut 40 jobs, or roughly 9 percent of its work force. On Wednesday, Wall Street analysts expect Handspring to report a first-quarter loss of 26 cents per share.

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