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Treo components shortage easing

The company starts selling the handheld-cell phone device in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the CEO says the parts shortage that has slowed the product's U.S. launch is easing.

SAN FRANCISCO--Handspring started selling its Treo handheld-cell phone combination device in Hong Kong on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the company's chief executive said the component shortage that has slowed the product's U.S. launch is easing.

CEO Donna Dubinsky said the company believes it can meet its revised schedule, which will see the Treo available to U.S. customers next month from Handspring's Web site and a month later in retail stores. Handspring said earlier this month that the Treo's launch in the United States had been slowed by the shortage of a key component.

"We feel the worst is behind us," Dubinsky said in a presentation at the Banc of America Securities Technology Conference here. "In the last two weeks, that vendor has met all milestones."

Handspring has not identified the component in question. However, the company is producing two versions of the device, one for Europe and Asia and the other for the United States. The company has said the bulk of this month's shipments will be for the former.

On Tuesday, the company also said that SmarTone, Hong Kong's second-largest wireless carrier will be supporting the device on its network. The Treo is selling for $561 (4,380 Hong Kong dollars) at SmarTone outlets and at certain other stores in Hong Kong.

Handspring is also expected to announce availability in Singapore this week.

As for the United States, Dubinsky said Handspring recently received network approval from Cingular Wireless for the Treo and remains in testing with VoiceStream Wireless.

In her presentation to analysts, Dubinsky discussed the color-screen version of the Treo that is expected later this year. That version will use a new kind of color screen that enables the display quality to be good indoors and out, she said, while offering battery life comparable to a monochrome device.