Handspring Treo 600 Nears Release

After a well-hyped summer, Handspring Inc.'s Treo 600 is about to make its debut into the real world.

BOSTON—After a well-hyped summer, Handspring Inc.s Treo 600 is about to make its debut into the real world.

Sprint PCS Group, Cingular Wireless LLC, AT&T Wireless Services Inc. and T-Mobile USA Inc. all plan to start selling the Palm OS-based smart phone, starting in the fall.

Sprint PCS will start selling the device for around $500 in October, according to officials at the Overland Park, Kan., company.

Cingular, of Atlanta, will start selling the device through B2B channels in October, and in retail stores at the beginning of 2004, officials said. Pricing will be $449 with a two-year contract, although corporate customers may get a discount for bulk purchases, officials said. Cingular also plans to launch a multimedia messaging service on October 5, which will be available on the Treo 600 as well as several phones from Nokia Corp. that support MMS. Cingular is offering an initial unlimited MMS service package of $2.99 per month for three months, on top of a customers regular service deal. After January, MMS service will be $2.99 per month for 20 MMS messages and 20 cents for each additional message, officials said.

AT&T Wireless will start selling the device by the end of the year, according to officials at the Redmond, Wash., company, who declined to give pricing. T-Mobile U.S.A. Inc. finished its field trials of the Treo 600 this week and has yet to announce a launch date.

The device is slightly smaller than its predecessors in Handsprings Treo line, and it does not have a flip cover. It features five-way navigation and an alphabet keypad with rounded buttons that accommodate big thumbs, but not long thumbnails. Ten of the letter buttons work as numbers, so users can dial the phone using the keypad or a virtual keypad on the color touch-screen.

The phone includes an integrated camera and several applications that take advantage of it; for example, users can set up their contact information and caller ID with pictures of callers. It runs Palm OS Version 5.0 on an ARM processor from Texas Instruments Inc., and it includes 32MB of memory. It does not include wireless LAN support, but it does have a Secure Digital expansion slot, which makes Wi-Fi a possibility.

"Were testing a Wi-Fi implementation with the device and an SD card," said Ed Colligan, president and chief operating officer, at a party for the Treo 600 here on Friday. "Id love to do a[n integrated] Wi-Fi product at some point in time, but I dont think thats here yet in this space."

The party for the Treo included several Handspring execs, representatives from the four carriers mentioned above, and some third-party vendors such as Good Technology Inc. whose software is supported on the device.

Missing from the party were Visto Corp. and Seven Networks Inc., both of whose e-mail clients run on the device, along with Goods. Sprint is offering Goods and Sevens. AT&T Wireless has supported Vistos client on past products, but has yet to announce its specific e-mail plans for the Treo 600.

Visto this week announced that it was suing Seven for patent infringement.

Colligan said he was not upset about the suit.

"Companies have a right to protect their IP," he said, adding that hed rather see the two companies fight it out in the market rather than in court, but that competition was to be expected.

Seven officials say the suit is a publicity stunt because Visto announced the suit before even telling Seven about it.

"They gave us no heads-up," said Bill Nguyen, CEO of Seven in Redwood City, Calif. "They just went straight to the press."