Handspring sells Treo in US, cuts price of Visor Edge

Handheld device maker Handspring began selling its Treo 180 communicator, a combined mobile phone and PDA (personal digital assistant) on its Web site on Sunday.

The hybrid Treo is available for US$399 when bought in conjunction with GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) service from Cingular Wireless LLC or VoiceStream Wireless Corp., the company said on its Web site.

Users can also purchase the Treo online without the Cingular or VoiceStream service for $549, Handspring said. Orders with Cingular Wireless service plans or without a packaged service plan will be delivered within one to two weeks, the company said. Orders placed with VoiceStream service plans are expected to begin shipping on Feb. 25, it said.

The GSM phone/PDA runs Palm Inc.'s Palm OS and uses a small keyboard for data entry. The Treo is powered by Motorola Inc.'s DragonBall VZ processor and comes with 16M bytes of memory. The battery allows for up to 2.5 hours of talk time, or 60 hours of standby while the phone unit is switched on, Handspring said.

Handspring's plans for reaching profitability by midyear are dependent on Treo sales, Donna Dubinsky, president and chief executive officer at Handspring conceded last month. On the strength of Treo sales, Handspring expects revenue to reach $86 million to $96 million by the company's fourth quarter, which will end in June, Dubinsky said at the time.

Last month, Hong Kong was the first country in the world to have Treo available on the shelves, at HK$4,380 (US$562). There are no plans to offset that price tag with service activation as in the U.S. The Treo was also made available in Singapore.

Plans to launch the Treo in Europe were outlined in January, with mobile-phone operator mmO2 PLC to distribute the device for use on its GSM networks in Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and the U.K. beginning in the second quarter.

Handspring also dropped the price of its Visor Edge handheld from $249 to $199 on its Web site.

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