Handspring, Orange tie up on advanced handsets

Handspring will work with Orange to design smart phone handsets specifically for Orange customers, the companies said Wednesday.

The phones will be based on Handspring's Treo product family, but will be customized to offer Orange-specific services, spokesman Stuart Jackson said.

Jackson was unable to say which products would be bundled with the Handspring phones, but said they would be similar to the back-up service and over-air application updates available on the Microsoft Windows-powered Smartphone 2002 SPV phone, launched by Orange last year.

The move to working with Handspring "was to give our users choice. The SPV is doing well and we'll continue to produce handsets with Microsoft, but we wanted to offer the Palm operating system too," Jackson said.

Handspring has given Orange, based in Paris, the option of getting involved early in the design, Jackson said. "We can influence the product from the start, customize the look and feel and add our software requirements," he said.

The phones should be available in Europe in the fourth quarter of 2003, Jackson said. Australian availability was not available.

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