The company has beena beta, or test, version of its e-mail software, called Treo Mail, on its Web site since mid-March. The software runs on Handspring's Treo devices, which combine cell phone and handheld features into a single device.
The application makes Handspring the latest device maker to officially jump into the market for offering e-mail access on a handheld device. Research In Motion, Palm and newcomerare among the other major companies in the market.
Analysts have looked to communications features as the next significant step for handheld devices. However, early indications of subscription rates and device purchases seem to show that acceptance is slower than expected.
Still, device makers and wireless network carriers remain committed in hopes that consumers' addiction to e-mail will push them to purchase and use a portable device that allows them to send and receive e-mail messages.
There are two versions of Handspring's Treo Mail 1.0. The Corporate Desktop Edition is for use with Microsoft Outlook or other e-mail accounts behind a corporate firewall and costs $100 per year. The Internet Edition is available for use with Internet-accessible e-mail accounts, such as Yahoo Mail, and costs $50 per year. Both versions are currently available on its Web site. A 30-day trial is also available for free on the Handspring site.
The Treo Mail software includes software for the handheld and a PC. Messages are stored with a service center, which forwards the messages to a device when it is in range. The technology comes from Handspring partner Visto. The service offers encryption and allows people to select filters to sort out only the messages they want to be sent from their PC to their Treo device.