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Heavy traffic again stalls Handspring's Net sales

Handspring restarts online sales of its highly anticipated Visor handheld, but its Web site is struggling to handle the heavy traffic.

Handspring is once again selling the Visor handheld online, but its Web site is struggling to handle the heavy traffic.

Online sales, originally intended as the primary method of selling the Visor, were halted due to unexpectedly high demand. As a result, customers were forced to place orders by telephone and were told not to expect to receive the product for up to six weeks.

In a newsletter sent to prospective buyers this week, the company said that "after many long hours of hard work, our online store is back up and running."

However, the site appeared to be very slow today when processing orders. In some cases customers received a message stating that "This store is currently experiencing heavy traffic and cannot serve your request."

A company spokesperson could not be reached for comment today on how long it would take for Web orders to be delivered or on the overloaded site.

On the Handspring site, customers can place orders for accessories and any of the three Visor models, priced at $149, $179, and $249.

The least-expensive version has 2MB of memory, while the $179 version adds a cradle for connecting to a PC via the universal serial bus (USB) port. The most expensive model comes with 8 MB of memory, a leather case, and a choice of four colors besides graphite.

Customers can also buy one of four Springboard expansion modules on the Web site: a modem, a backup module, 8 MB of flash memory, and a golf game.

Palm cofounders Donna Dubinsky and Jeff Hawkins last year formed Handspring, the second company to market a device based on the Palm Computing operating system.

A third company has also entered the arena. However, TRG Products will market its Palm OS device to large companies and organizations rather than individual consumers.