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Handspring: Wireless E-Mail In Works

Handspring plans a Wireless 2002 demonstration of a beta version of Treo Mail, a wireless subscription service enabling its Treo 180 and 180g PDA-phones to share an existing corporate or ISP e-mail address.

Handspring offers the e-mail service through its proxy server over Cingular and VoiceStream circuit-switched GSM networks.

The Corporate Edition solution lets users access their enterprise’s Microsoft Outlook or POP3 e-mail from behind the firewall. Companion software can be loaded on the networked PC’s hard drive. Later on, Visto will offer an enterprise e-mail server that will redirect e-mail to the device, making it unnecessary for an enterprise employee to keep his PC on to receive e-mail.

The Internet Edition client software can be used with a home office PC, which doesn’t have to remain on.

The service works like this: The user’s desktop regularly redirects e-mail to Handspring’s proxy server. At regular intervals down to 30 minutes, the Treo will call the proxy server and download whatever e-mail has been received. Alternately, the user can initiate e-mail downloads after getting an e-mail-waiting notification via SMS. The service also lets users automatically synchronize their Treo’s e-mail, but not PIM functions, with their PC over a GSM network. The phones also support SMS.

Handspring will eventually offer a software upgrade to deliver GPRS packet-data capability.

For now, the two Treos — one with keyboard, one with handwriting recognition — are available via Handspring’s Web site at $399 with wireless-phone activation. The e-mail service will be free during beta testing, but Handspring plans a monthly fee on top of the wireless carrier’s normal data fees.