Handspring to Eventually Stop Making the Visor

During a conference call today, Handspring CEO Donna Dubinsky said for the first time that her company will eventually stop making Visors and only make Treos. She said, "We are a company that is transitioning out of the organizer business and into the communicator business. At some point we will have transitioned out of the organizer business." Ms. Dubinsky didn't say when this switchover might take place.

Since the introduction of the Treo line last fall, there had been much speculation about Handspring's future plans for the Visor, especially because the Treo doesn't include the Springboard slot, which before had been the primary feature of all the company's handhelds.

While Ms. Dubinsky didn't flat-out say this was the end of the Springboard, the implication is certainly there.

This announcement means Handspring is betting its entire future on the success of the Treo line.

In what will hopefully not be a sign of things to come, Ms. Dubinsky also had to announce that the rollout of the Treo will be delayed in the U.S. due to parts shortages at its Mexican plant.

The Treo line is made of of several models, all of which have integrated wireless capabilities allowing them to handle both voice and data. The Treo 180 will have a built-in keyboard while the 180g will use Graffiti for text input. Both of these will have monochrome screens and cost $400 with a service contract.

Later this year, the company will release the Treo 270 with a color screen and a built-in keyboard. Handspring currently plans to charge $600 for it.

This is Part Three of a three part series on Handspring's quarterly report and the associated conference call. Part One covers the financial results. Part Two the delay in the Treo. -Ed

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Good luck Handspring

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/16/2002 12:08:17 AM #
I'd like to wish them luck with the Treo line....... well as much luck as them copying the Newton OS anyways.

RE: Good luck Handspring
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/16/2002 1:25:55 AM #
Wow, amazing that the first comment on a new thread at PIC is a Troll. I just can't believe it.

RE: Good luck Handspring
Foo Fighter @ 1/16/2002 1:48:33 AM #

RE: Good luck Handspring
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/16/2002 8:55:14 AM #
I don't understand the troll's comment. What does the treo have to do with a failed OS from the mid-90s?

RE: Good luck Handspring
Foo Fighter @ 1/16/2002 9:37:22 AM #
I don't understand his/her point either. But the second post was funny!

RE: Good luck Handspring
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/16/2002 2:21:01 PM #
Wow..Even more amazed.. Onetroll, followed by another, than another and another...The whol thread here are trolls.

This would be a stupid announcement

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/16/2002 1:01:10 AM #
If the announcment turns out to be true, it would be a very dumb thing to say. "Gosh, we are going to discontinue our Visors... and by the way, the thing we are replacing them with are backordered!" This would have the effect of scaring away potential customers.

Lets hope this is not true.

It's True
Ed @ 1/16/2002 9:13:13 AM #
I'm not in the habit of making up the news. If you don't believe me, listen to the conference call yourself. It's archived here:

News Editor
RE: It's True
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/16/2002 4:23:43 PM #
I think you're jumping to alot of conclusions even though it is true. They may still have new Visors that come out before they make their full transition. Donna refused to comment on anything else they had in the pipeline, Visors or Treos. She said they're not in the habbit of talking about any new devices before they're released. I think we can expect one maybe two more new Visor models before they complete their transition to a strictly communicator company. Additionally, I wouldn't be suprised if they offer some kind of "piggyback" way to use springboards with future TREOs.

The slant that you've taken Ed, is a strong and not necessarily correct one. It almost seems like you're reporting that Handspring is going to stop Visor sales, development, and support next week, which definately is not the case. It may be more than two years down the road (when all warranties are up) that they finally put the Visor line behind them. I think that you're just trying to gloat about the possibility of one of your predictions comming true (Springboards will be phased out). Lets try to keep the news unbiased as much as possible.

RE: This would be a stupid announcement
Ed @ 1/16/2002 5:25:13 PM #
Please notice the word "eventually" sprinkled through the article, as in "Handspring to Eventually Stop Making the Visor" . I think that makes it clear enough that Handspring isn't dropping the Visor line like a hot potato. Ms. Dubinsky's quote included in the article also emphasizes this.

You have to admit that the prospects for the Springboard don't look good. If Handspring had intended to continue using it, I believe Ms. Dubinsky would have made that clear as part of this statement. That she didn't do so I think speaks volumes. Perhaps I'm reading too much into an omission but conference calls like this with analysts and the press are carefully planned out and everything that gets mentioned, or doesn't get mentioned, is for a reason.

News Editor

RE: This would be a stupid announcement
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/16/2002 6:43:07 PM #
Not to be a troll or anything, but I think un-biased news is bull****. I'd much rather read a site in which the writers/editors actually think about the news, analyze it, and report it, rather than hear from someone who is naive enough to think that it's possible to be unbiased.

We all have opinions and it colors the way we think and write. It's unavoidable.

My point (attempt to get this bit back on topic): Keep up the analysis, Ed! If anyone disagrees, it will just lead to (hopefully) thoughtful discussion.

RE: This would be a stupid announcement
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/16/2002 8:40:50 PM #
Unbiased reporting is and always should be the goal. Otherwise reporting is just pure claptrap and just another person's personal opinion. Opinion pieces are just that... and are certainly NOT the same as reporting.

RE: This would be a stupid announcement
TDS @ 1/16/2002 11:52:44 PM #
I am the poster of the first comment here, and I certainly never meant to insinuate you were making it up, Ed. I was just kind of hoping it was a rumour tht was circulating. I have followed it on other sites today, and sure enough, it is true!
Handspring may need to do some damage control ASAP. So far, they have not made a nickel off of the unreleased Treo, and Donna has started rining the death bell of the only thing that they have ever sold! Lets hope this does not blow up in their faces.


RE: This would be a stupid announcement
james_sorenson @ 1/17/2002 1:27:51 AM #
Unbiased reporting may be the goal of some sites, but it certainly is not a requirement of all sites. Good grief, if he truly wanted to do unbiased reports, he would just post a link and say nothing else. PalmInfoCenter does it best. The link is posted (the unbiased part) and the editor gives a summary analysis (that may be slightly biased due to interpretation).

Lord knows, you are not required to take the same opinion as the editor! I enjoy how he can extrapolate viewpoints and make connections to past stories. It is what separates this site from Handango.

James Sorenson

RE: This would be a stupid announcement
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/17/2002 1:11:16 PM #
I agree with James. I used to follow PIC and PDABuzz, but I've given up on Buzz, mainly because Wes, the site editor over there, places biases in almost everything, calls it "objective reporting," then whines about it like a baby whenever someone calls him on it. Ed approaches it properly, separating the story from the analysis/opinion. I prefer it. Wes, on the other hand, would label that "cheerleading," or whatever, but then, Wes is apparently an incredible jerk.

RE: This would be a stupid announcement
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/27/2002 7:08:54 PM #
There are two very important issues that are being left out here for all of you who are predicting the failure of HandSpring.

1. Take a look around you and see how many people have cell phones stuck in their ear vs. jotting down a note on a Visor or Palm. Janitors, Preachers, High School kids, etc.....everybody has a cell phone....but not a handheld.

2. There will come a time.....where the handheld device will take the same path as the calculator, VCR, CD Radio, etc.....in other words....they will become much cheaper and common place than they are today.

Try making a profit on those margins while still making a innovative product.

HandSpring will not only survive.....it will prosper.

Visor discontinued...

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/16/2002 1:33:29 AM #

Guess I shouldn't hold out for a new hi-res reflective TFT screen Visor. Seems like everytime I buy a handheld, a year or so later they discontinue it. Then if I buy something new, I have to buy new accessories to go with it. I'm about ready to switch back to my dayrunner and shuck the entire electronic thing.

RE: Visor discontinued...
mikeliu @ 1/16/2002 3:01:45 AM #
hehe, or rather than switching back to the Dayrunner ,you could switch back to one of your old electronic handhelds that you already have all the accessories you wanted for it. it was good enough back then to replace your Dayrunner back in the day, unless it's broken nothing should change that...

RE: Visor discontinued...
pontif @ 1/16/2002 9:59:23 AM #
Thats my problem... My unit broke, but all the accessories are still fine. I just can't buy a new palm to fit them.

Ok, I probably could find one, buy I'm faced with these choices:

1) Buy a new one (Probably a Clie T615 actually) and replace any/all accessories I still want/need.

2) Pay almost as much as a new one would cost, for a replacement for the old one, with the understanding that cool accessories like the thumb keyboards will never be made for it, and I won't be able to use memory expansion, etc. (Am I really the only one constantly pushing the edge of 8mb?)

3) Buy a used one cheap, and risk it dying just like mine did. (Besides the non-replacable LI battery in it would be just about at the end of its lifespan by now, unless they never used or charged it.)

Just my thoughts...

RE: Visor discontinued...
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/16/2002 2:00:57 PM #
R.e. Pontif.
Please don't buy a T615. I want one and I don't want
it discontinued. :-) ("everytime I buy a handheld,
a year or so latere they discontinue it")

RE: Visor discontinued...
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/16/2002 5:13:03 PM #
If every time I bought a handheld, it got discontinued, I would try very hard, next time, NOT TO BUY A CRAPPY PDA! :)

RE: Visor discontinued...
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/16/2002 6:40:53 PM #
Amen Brother!

RE: Visor discontinued...
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/16/2002 9:32:55 PM #
My take on this is: run out and buy a Visor Deluxe for $100 at Fry's Electronics, and a FlashPlus adapter and 64MB CF card at www.matchbookdrive.com for expansion (for well under $100), and you're good for a year or two. Or, get the Prism for $200. Get the extended warranty from Fry's, if you can, 'cuz by the time your Visor breaks, the Visor will be discontinued and Fry's will give you the latest and greatest for about $35.

RE: Visor discontinued...
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/17/2002 4:52:23 PM #
I feel the same way !


Foo Fighter @ 1/16/2002 1:49:21 AM #
It saddens me to see the once proud name of Handspring disappear from the shelves, but it's not surprising. Handspring will be bankrupt before the color Treo model ever hits the market.


RE: Sad...
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/16/2002 2:03:22 AM #
Foo, you seem to be a strong believer that HS is going under. But given the facts around it, you may be correct. HS tries to market and depend their fate on the Treo as if they will be the only communicator manufacturer in the market. They seem to be oblivious to Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and others. Wireless is a dynamic market, I do not know how much resources they have to compete against the mobile/wireless big brothers already in the market.

But I guess they have no choice, they can neither compete with Palm in the low end not Sony on the high end. Since they are going to die anyway, why not take the last bet?? They may survive....

RE: Sad...
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/16/2002 4:35:23 AM #
Well, maybe not. The guys at Qualcomm seem to think that Handspring will do well, so much so that they invested USD50m (in real honest-to-goodness cash). Maybe they know something that we don't.

RE: Sad...
jonecool @ 1/16/2002 8:36:58 AM #
I am beginning to agree with you. Perhaps there is some adapter for the TREO that we just don't know about that allows Springboards to work with the TREO. If this is the case, "most" (definitely not all) of our concerns about the Springboard and dropping the Visor would not be as big of a deal.

However, if they offer no form of expansion for the TREO then they are admitting the Springboard was a flop. If that is the case, then I'm afraid they have ruined the business contacts that have given HS the edge(no pun intended) for the past few years.

At some point, HS *WILL* be considering a form of expansion for the TREO and when they do, they will find it difficult to sign up their first manufacturer.

I wonder if it was that Napping module that finally made them pull the plug on the Visor? Hmm.... -That's a Joke, ok ;)

RE: Sad...
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/16/2002 8:59:44 AM #
You can't say the Springboard was a failure. It DID make them the second largest handheld maker in the world, selling more than all the PPC makers combined. Say instead that the market has changed and Handspring is following the new trend.

RE: Sad...
Ed @ 1/16/2002 9:30:01 AM #
Foo Fighter, whatever your opinions on Handspring's long-term prospects, its very unlikely they will go out of business before the Treo 270 gets released, which is scheduled to be in the next three to six months. Even if it takes Handspring the longest estimate, all the way to June, that's only two financial quarters.

Currently, the company's cash and investments balance is $175.5 million, of which $124.8 million was unrestricted. Last quarter, Handspring lost $15.2 million and the quarter before it was $26.2 million. So at absolute worst, the company might lose $30 million a quarter. And that's assuming the Treo utterly flops. That means Handspring is good for at least another year at minimum.

That's a really pessimistic analysis. Handspring has an optimistic one that says the company will be profitable by June. In either case, the company isn't going anywhere soon.

News Editor

RE: Sad...
peter167 @ 1/16/2002 10:51:45 AM #
Ed, I hope you got the facts right about Handspring.


It's $112.7 mil cash as of Dec 31st, 2001. That includes investment(s) from Qualcomm already.

With Visors quitting Handspring's lineup in the coming quarters, Handspring's revenue will come from primarily Treo. In the meantime, the revenue will only keeps going down and down. Also, when new users know that the Visors will be discontinued, that hurts consumer's confidence to buy their handhelds because there is a likely chance there will not be add-ons and accessories any more.

Yes, Handspring may not run out of cash when it announces the color-version. But it would just shortly after that. Remember, you have to pay cash to manufacturers to make the products. So that if the monochrome versions are dying, they will not get the cash returned to build the color version one. And more important is that if the B/W fails, would anyone buy the color one, presumably it will be about $200 more? I know most of us are Palm lovers, but Handspring's condition is really in question.

RE: Sad...
Foo Fighter @ 1/16/2002 1:19:29 PM #
Ed, Handspring has been making projections about future profitability every quarter. Dubinsky once projected that the Edge would carry them to profitability, but we know how that story ended. Look at their recent earnings report. Revenues were up only 15% over the holiday season. One report posted by NPD stated that Handspring's sales were up less than 9% at the start of the shopping season. Terrible performance. Even Compaq, with its ultra expensive iPaq was able to double sales. What do you think Handsprings earnings will look like for Q1 of this year? Not good. Sales always drop post-holiday. And now that Handspring is going up against the big wireless companies, especially Nokia, they will face even tighter profit margins. The only hope for Handspring is a buyout. But I don't see them as an acquisition target considering they have no technology to offer.

5 months may be a little too pessimistic, but I can promise you that Handspring won't be celebrating Christmas, if you know what I mean.

RE: Sad...
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/16/2002 5:41:38 PM #
Unless i'm mis-remembering, the Springboard uses the same bus as the connector at the bottom of all Handspring devices. So couldn't some clever third party developer create a small device hich plugged into the bottom and took Springboard modules?

New English?
TDS @ 1/16/2002 11:57:56 PM #
I think that is the first time I have seen someone use the word "mis-remembering". Is that a word? ;)

RE: Sad...
swinginjonny @ 1/17/2002 2:17:45 PM #
No, it's not a word. But I think he gets major points for creativity. I think I'll be using "misremembering" from now on.

Bye, bye Handspring

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/16/2002 6:22:45 AM #
I really liked the Visor line. mp3 players, PresenterToGO, adapters for all sorts of memory cards, Palm OS, cheap prices. It's sad they'll go.

If Handspring really focusses only on the Treo, I'll bet they'll be dead at least in two years. A combination of PDA and cell phone sucks. It's heavy nadf bulky, or has a way to small screen. genuine PDAs and genuine cell phones are still much more powerfull (small m505 with all it's advantages, ericsson t39 with voice dialing, vioce commands for answeriung/rejecting calls and so on), and if I loose one device or one battery runs out, the other is still good. WIth bluetooth built in in all future PDAs and cell phones, no one needs a LAME combination, because you can use the two in a much more conveniant way (cell phone to your ear, pda in your hand) or like a combo device (cell phone in the briefcase, but use the PDA like it was a combo).

The Siemens SX45 was the one I thougth to be a good combination, but it's really LAME. It has the old PPC system, not upgradeable to PPC2002 (I like Palm OS better, but that's not the point here), has less phone features than the cheapest Siemens cell phone two years ago. It really sucks.

The Nokia communicator is a real brick and very ugly. It's a good device only for few people, and most people buying it are dump asses in my opinion "Wow, PDA and phjone, I have to get it" - despite the fact it costs more than two good separate devices and it has many weaknesses. The succes is mainly because it has "Nokia" written on it, I think. And Handspring will have a hard time competing with them, and surely be dead if they concentrate just on wireless PDAs. At least they'll loose what tehy started to built in europe, because:
- wireless data prices are much higher
-almost no cell phone user knows the name Handspring here, and people in general know much less about PDAs than in the US

I can only hope that Handspring doesn't make such a stupid descision. Otherwise it would be a very sad day and I too could only say: RIP, it was nice to have had you with us for some months, Handspring.


RE: Bye, bye Handspring
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/16/2002 9:01:56 AM #
Most of what you say is true... about other smartphones. Wait until you actually see a Treo and most of your complaints will disappear.

The Treo is smaller than many handhelds that don't have built in wireless For example, the m505 is 4.5" x 3.1" x 0.5". The Treo is 4.3" x 2.7" x 0.7. Asside from being slightly thicker, the Treo is shorter and much less wide than a m505. Here's another way to look at it. Get out a deck of cards and look at it. The Treo is smaller than that.

As part of the design process, Jeff Hawkins and his team used the Treo as their mobile phone in public many, many times. No-one saw that they were anything other than mobile phones.

Think of it as a super-slim PDA that just happens to have a mobile phone built into it.

RE: Bye, bye Handspring
jonecool @ 1/16/2002 9:29:38 AM #
It appears that you work for the company or at least has seen a TREO in person.

Can you tell us if there will be an expansion option for (i.e. Springboard adapter/sled option) the TREO? I think this would ease many of our concerns about the Visor line being dropped.

If not, is this even possible with the TREO?

RE: Bye, bye Handspring
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/16/2002 10:24:56 AM #
No expansion available in the currently announced Treo devices.

RE: Bye, bye Handspring
MobileMitch @ 1/16/2002 10:27:09 AM #
IMHO I think the treo will be just fine without a springboard plan. What will hurt it I think is not having room for a SD card.

As appealing as the treo is to me, I could never go back to just 8 (or even 16) megs. I am hooked on all that extra space the SD card gives me.

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