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Handspring to cut price of VisorPhone

In the latest price cut to hit the handheld market, the company is slicing $50 off the price tag for its VisorPhone attachment for making phone calls.

In the latest price cut to hit the handheld market, Handspring is slicing $50 off the price tag of its VisorPhone attachment for making phone calls.

With the price cut being announced Tuesday, the VisorPhone will sell for $249 with activation of wireless service or $449 without service. Handspring's cut follows Palm's move last week to chop the price of its Palm VIIx wireless handheld to $199.

"It's an increasingly competitive environment in the handheld market," Handspring spokesman Allen Bush said.

Handspring and Palm have both made other price cuts in recent weeks throughout their product lines as Palm suffers through a glut of inventory amid slowing consumer demand for handhelds and other gadgets.

The VisorPhone add-on, which plugs into Handspring's Springboard expansion slot, allows owners of Handspring Visors to make phone calls and access wireless data. Service is available nationally from VoiceStream Wireless and Powertel. It is also available in Cingular Wireless service areas, which include California, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, eastern Tennessee and coastal Georgia.

Although Handspring appears to be intensifying the price-cut trend with the drop in price of the VisorPhone, the company is countering the trend with its latest software plans. It plans to announce Tuesday that the latest version of Blazer, its Internet browser, will now sell for $19.99 to non-Visor owners instead of being available as a free download.

Handspring acquired Blazer with its purchase of Bluelark Systems, announced in December.

Handspring plans to continue to bundle Blazer free with its products, but it will look to sell the software to owners of other handhelds that use the Palm operating system. Handspring will initially sell Blazer via handheld-oriented online sites PalmGear and Handango and eventually through its own Web site.

The new version of Blazer links to content from Microsoft's MSN service and Google's search engine.

Handspring will bundle Blazer with several other programs on a CD to be distributed with VisorPhone. Other programs on the CD will include Yahoo Messenger, an instant messaging program; JP Mobile One-Touch Mail, an e-mail program; and BugMe Messenger, which allows people to send and receive handwritten notes.