Things seem to be looking up for handheld computer maker Handspring Corp., which posted a second-quarter loss that was less than the past quarter. Still, the quarter was not nearly as good as in the previous year.
Company officials said on Tuesday that the improvement was due to decent holiday sales.
For the three-month period ending Dec. 29, the Mountain View, Calif., company reported a net loss of $19.8 million, or 16 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $15.2 million, or 15 cents per share, for the same quarter last year.
Revenue was $70.5 million, which was up 15 percent from last quarter but down 39 percent from the previous year.
Company officials said that the future of Handspring lies with the TREO, a device that combines PDA, cell phone and pager, which is due to ship in the United States later in the year.
"Handspring is a company going through an evolution from products that are sometimes connected to products that are always connected," CEO Donna Dubinsky said in an earnings call.
Earlier in the day, Handspring announced deals with London firm mm02 and Swedish firm APE Telecom to roll out the TREO in Europe during the first quarter. TREO runs on the GSM network, which prevails in Europe.
Handspring also plans to launch a Color TREO in the second quarter, upgrade the TREO to the GPRS network by the middle of the year, and launch a TREO based on the CDMA network before the end of the year. GPRS is the next step up from GSM. CDMA is an alternative to GSM; both CDMA and GSM networks exist in the United States.
By mid-year, the company plans to launch an e-mail service for the TREO through a deal with Visto Corp.
Company officials said the service would be similar to that of Research in Motion Ltd.s Blackberry device, but not identical. The Blackberry features an "always-on" capability. But because TREO works on GSM, which is a circuit-switched network, the device must make a phone call to do any function. GPRS, which is packet-switched, will take care of that problem. But in the meantime, Dubinsky said the company had done its best to hide the fact that the initial e-mail service is not push-based.
"It will actually be a little different from the RIM solution," she said, but "the end result will be comparable for the end user."
The company also plans to continue selling more traditional handheld organizers in the form of the Visor NEO, which ships for $199.
"The Visor NEO is our key product at $199 and at this stage is one of the leading products," Dubinsky said.
The company wants to make sure Visor prices dont dip below that figure, she said.
The Visor Platinum and Visor Deluxe, which had been selling at bargain basement prices last year, are no longer available.