RealTime IT News

Treo 90 Gets Tricked Out

Handheld maker Handspring announced a free software upgrade that will make its Treo 90 organizer compatible with Secure Digital Input/Output (SD I/O) expansion cards. With SD I/O, a Treo 90 can add capabilities such as Bluetooth and PowerPoint.

"We're making [the Treo 90] even more powerful with this upgrade, which supports great new wireless and multimedia options without compromising the size or weight," Joe Sipher, Handspring vice president of marketing, said in a statement.

The new SD IO capability, available at Handspring's support site, allows users to expand the device's features with two expansion cards: Palm Bluetooth card and MARGI Systems Presenter-and-Go.

The Palm Bluetooth card gives the Treo 90 wireless networking capability to any Bluetooth-enabled devices within a range of about 30 feet. Presenter-and-Go, made by MARGI Systems, allows users to transfer PowerPoint presentations from their Treo 90 to a projector.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Handspring touts the Treo 90 as one of the smallest PDAs around, weighing in at just 4 oz. The organizer has a Palm OS, regular keyboard, color screen, and 16 MB of memory.

The new SD I/O expansion cards build on Handspring's faith in its Treo line, especially the communicator line that combines the convenience of a handheld with the capabilities of a Web-enabled cell phone.

With Treo line's launch in February, Handspring began phasing out its other organizers in the expectation Treo would prove immensely popular. Yet Treo has not exactly taken the market by storm: Handspring reported 20 percent lower sales in the second quarter compared to the previous year. Handspring recently cut the price for the Treo 180 and 300 communicators.

Handspring unveiled the Treo 90 in late May, but the company has battled slumping sales and an overall decline in the handheld market.

In the second quarter, research by IDC pegged Handspring trailing Palm, HP and Sony, grabbing 6.5 percent of the market with a little more than 170,000 units shipped in the quarter. Compared to second quarter 2001, Handspring's shipments were off 43 percent.

Handspring is not alone dealing with declining sales. The overall handheld market declined 9.3 percent compared to a year earlier, according to IDC. The researcher pegs the decline on general economic weakness and a reluctance of enterprises to make product upgrades. IDC expects the market will remain flat through the rest of 2002.