Handspring unveils new product to compete with Palm

The Associated Press
Tuesday March 13, 2001

MOUNTAIN VIEW — Hand-to-hand combat in the booming market of personal digital assistants escalated a notch Monday. 

Handspring Inc. introduced a sleek, metal-encased PDA to directly compete with Palm Inc.’s top-selling Palm V. 

The Visor Edge is Handspring’s first slim-design handheld device. It is .44 inches thick, 4.7 inches tall and 3.1 inches wide, and weighs 4.8 ounces. 

The Mountain View-based company, founded in 1998, makes electronic organizers that run on the same operating system as Palm Pilots.  

But, until Monday, its line of devices were thicker and vastly different from Palm devices because they came only in colorful plastic cases and featured expansion slots that allow users to turn the devices into digital cameras, mobile phones, MP3 music players and other things. 

The Visor Edge comes with a detachable slot that is compatible with existing expansion modules. 

“Up until now, everyone who wanted a Springboard slot went with a Visor, and everyone who wanted thin-and-light went with a Palm V, and now Handspring has come directly after the Palm V marketplace,” said Jerry Purdy, an analyst with Mobile Insights. 

Palm has been the undisputed leader in the market for handheld organizers, enjoying more than 70 percent of all sales in the category.  

The handheld computer industry is predicted to grow an average of 28 percent a year through 2004, according to Cahners In-Stat Group. 

But Palm has been making strides to remain competitive as Handspring and other PDAs using Microsoft’s CE operating system cut into its territory. 

In December, Palm officials said the company would be coming out with new models early this year, featuring expansion slot options similar to those offered now by Handspring. 

Handspring’s Visor Edge features a monochrome display and comes in silver, blue and red anodized aluminum cases. It has 8 megabytes of memory and runs on a 33-megahertz Motorola processor. It is priced at $399. 

The new products are available immediately on Handspring’s Web site and will be available in stores by the end of the month. 

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