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Handspring, T-Mobile team on Treo 270

The device maker and the cellular carrier are working together to market and sell the Treo 270, a combination cell phone and organizer.

Handspring and T-Mobile USA are teaming up on a combination cell phone and organizer.

The two companies on Tuesday plan to announce that they are working together to market and sell a co-branded Treo 270 device. The $499 device already is available on the Handspring Web site and through T-Mobile stores. A $100 rebate will be offered to new T-Mobile subscribers when they activate their service. The device includes some specialized preloaded T-Mobile software and the ability to access next-generation GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) networks.

The deal is similar to the agreement Handspring made with CDMA (code division multiple access) carrier Sprint. But unlike the Sprint deal, T-Mobile did not co-develop the Treo 270 device. Handspring and T-Mobile will work together to educate consumers about the Treo 270's capabilities.

T-Mobile will pay up front for the Treo 270 devices sold through its stores, alleviating any burden on Handspring to carry inventory of the gadgets. Handspring is trying to become more of a "build to order" company, a Handspring representative said.

In mid-January, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company said it expected to sign up two new carriers by the end of the calendar year.

Handspring has been trying to shift the focus of its business from selling handheld organizers to its Treo communicator devices. Instead of aiming at individual customers, the company is targeting carriers; wireless carriers tend to purchase more devices at once than consumers. For the quarter ended Dec. 28, 2002, Handspring sold about 54,000 communicators, a 23 percent increase over the previous quarter.