Handspring Makes the Push for Treo

Handspring sounded the call Tuesday to ramp up sales for its Treo 180 handheld devices by enticing existing Handspring users with a rebate offer.

Calling the campaign the “Trade up to Treo,” Mountain View, Calif.-based Handspring is marketing its newest sales drive as an incentive for Visor, Palm OS, and wireless email device users to make the leap to a single multi-use handheld device.

The rush to sell off its current line of Treo communicators comes at the heels of a bumpy ride last week when company shares plunged 14 percent following the abrupt exit of the company’s chief financial officer. Profitability projections took a downturn and the company’s third quarter revenues, in particular sales of the Treo, were far less than expected.

What started out as big hype over the multi-functioning capabilities of the Treo, quickly fizzled when the market simply wasn’t there, said industry analysts. Some blame has been put on the network carriers for not rolling out the kind of data/voice telephony technology that companies like Handspring, Nokia, and Research in Motion are relying on to market 2.5G and 3G handheld device functionality.

In the meantime, the nifty, lightweight Treo 180 is the dreamchild of the personal digital assistant industry. All 5.2 ounces of it combine GSM mobile phone service, a Palm OS organizer, wireless email, Internet access, and SMS text messaging all in one little gadget. A flip-open design enables more comfortable Web page and email viewing, and the Treo comes with 16 MB of memory and uses an integrated QWERTY keyboard. It provides users with a rocker switch for one-handed navigation and speakerphone capability, and transferring existing data from other Palm-powered devices can be easily HotSynced.

According to representatives for Handspring, the next Treo generation will be compatible with GPRS wireless data networks.

Current Visor owners will receive a $100 instant rebate with the purchase of a Treo 180, whereas owners of any other type of handheld device looking to upgrade, will receive the same discount through a mail-in rebate.

“Early Handspring surveys are showing that customers are purchasing Treo to replace multiple devices, and we want to fuel that momentum even further by making this offer available to anyone who currently owns a handheld computer or wireless email-enabled device,” said Karen Sipprell, vice president of corporate marketing for Handspring.

Handspring’s rebate offer will run from May 7, 2002, through June 2 and is exclusive to sales from its Web site.

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