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Handspring Expands Treo Distribution

New York – Wireless carriers AT&T, Sprint, and Cingular have agreed to offer Handspring’s third-generation PDA-phone, the Treo 600, later this year, Handspring announced.

The PDA maker is also in negotiations with carrier T-Mobile for possible sales in early 2004, a spokesman told TWICE during a press/analysts event here on Thursday.

The announcements mark a continuation of Handspring’s recently revamped strategy to sell through carriers rather than direct to dealers. The announcements also mark an expansion of Handspring’s PDA-phone distribution. Only Sprint and T-Mobile offer current-generation Treo PDA-phones.

At the event, a Sprint PCS spokesperson told TWICE that Sprint would offer the 800/1900MHz CDMA 1x version of the phone in October through all distribution channels at a price of about $500, which could vary according to the rate plan selected and length of contract.

An AT&T spokesperson said AT&T would offer the GPRS/GSM version, a world-band 850/900/1800/1900MHz model, sometime in the fourth quarter, possibly through direct sales to business at first depending on the quantities received.

Cingular wasn’t present to comment.

The 600 is promoted as more phone-like than its predecessors because it’s smaller and lacks its predecessors’ flip cover. It still offers keyboard for dialing, entering information, and messaging, and its LCD touchscreen can still be used for dialing and for entering information via a stylus.

The 600, which features Palm OS 5-based organizer and fast ARM processor, also offers substantially greater talk and standby time than its predecessors, said Handspring president Ed Colligan. The CDMA1x version delivers four hours of talk time, while the GSM version delivers 5 to 6 hours, the company said. The current 900/1900MHz GSM Treo 270 delivers up to three hours of talk time, and the current CDMA 1x Treo 300 delivers 2.5 hours.

Other improvements include display of threaded SMS messages, MMS, POP3 client, Java script support to view more web sites, included software to read downloaded Microsoft Word and Excel files, built-in VGA camera, proxyless Web browsing, and support for wireless access to e-commerce sites.

Handspring will offer trade-up incentives for current Treo owners, the company added.