Handspring Might Be Moving Into China (Updated)

Update: Reports that Handspring was going to team up with Legend Holdings, the largest PC maker in China, have turned out to be incorrect. According to Reuters, Legend instead announced a deal today for Texas Instruments to provide chips for Legend's high-end phones..

Chinese PC maker Legend Holdings is planning to diversify its product line. Reuters, citing Chinese-language media reports, says Legend will announce a deal tomorrow with two handheld makers. Reportedly, one of these will be Handspring and the other a Chinese company. Legend has said in the past that wireless handhelds will be important to its future.

Legend Holdings is the largest PC maker in China, with about 30% of the market.

Handheld sales are growing quickly in China but no one operating system dominates there like the Palm OS does everywhere else. For the most part, handhelds sold in China are low-end models selling for much less than $100.

Acer makes handhelds that run the Palm OS that are already available in China. The Acer s10 has a monochrome 160 by 160 screen, 16 MB of RAM, and runs a Chinese version of Palm OS 4.1. It also includes MP3 playback and has a built-in voice recorder. Acer is a Memory Stick licensee so it includes a Memory Stick slot.

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I.M. Anonymous @ 2/26/2002 2:50:27 PM #
Think if only one person in a thousand wanted to buy a PDA over there. It's a huge market and I am suprised none of the big boys has gotten there sooner. Maybe it's the language. Does anybody know if Chinese poses any major user-interface or developmental problems?

RE: Interesting...
popko @ 2/26/2002 2:58:30 PM #
"Maybe it's the language. Does anybody know if Chinese poses any major user-interface or developmental problems?"

As fart as Chinese interfaces goes, the complex charactor can be a major road block (I think the same applys to Japanese as well). I used to have Chinese on my Visor, but the 160x160 screen made it really hard to read things. Now that my Clie has a 320x320 screen, things easier to see.

"Think if only one person in a thousand wanted to buy a PDA over there. It's a huge market ..."

First, the average income of the average family is not as high as that of the average North American families. Second, the adaption rate of Cell phones are much higher in Asia, so for people who only needed the PIM function of a PDA, buying a extra handhled is just troblesome. Third, the lack of Palm apps in Chinese language. Forth, while i was in Mainland China last summer, I notice there are lots of cheap handhelds based on OSes from small local Chinses companies. One of the PDA I saw, which has like 6MB of RAM and allow you to do realy time handwritting only costed 350 yen (this is only about $35 US).

just my 2c

RE: Interesting...
peter167 @ 2/26/2002 2:59:10 PM #
The problem is not how many people are over there; the question is how many people who can afford to buy a $100US handheld over there.

Of course, there are many really rich people in China; however, there are a lot of poor people over there as well.The China market still remains very cloudy.

But let's hope there will be more talented people over there who can develop new hardware/software expansion for our future PDAs.

Lie is the future.

RE: Interesting...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/26/2002 3:01:47 PM #
> Does anybody know if Chinese poses any major user-interface or developmental problems?

I don't think so. Double-byte encoding and display problems have been solved for some time.

RE: Interesting...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/26/2002 3:05:00 PM #
> Does anybody know if Chinese poses any major user-interface or developmental problems?

Depends on what the solution is to the problem. If you were to use traditional character sets of the chinese language the biggest one off the bat is probably the display of complex characters. On a 160x160 screen clarity of the charcter sets is would probably be very hard, and a very important problem to fix.

RE: Interesting...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/26/2002 3:39:01 PM #
Agree, displaying Chinese character (either Traditional or Siplified) is hard to read and blocky under 160x160 screen, but it looks much smoother under 320x320.

RE: Interesting...
jjsoh @ 2/26/2002 6:30:44 PM #
Interesting how Acer was able to pull it off with only 160x160:


Has anyone seen this Acer's PDA up close to tell how good/bad the fonts looked?

Anyway, the first reply by popko sounds familiar to me. I saw one of my co-workers use a PDA much like the Palm, only in Korean. It was also cheaper than any Palms at the time of purchase. The handwritten character recognition was very accurate for Korean/English. It allowed you to write as you normally would (in print, not script of course :).

What strikes me as odd is the fact that Palm does not list Korea on their International page (http://palm.com/intl/). Yet, I was able to find a Palm Korea page at http://www.palm.co.kr.

Why is Palm Korea separate, whereas Japan and Taiwan are directly a part of Palm's main site? Does anyone know why?

RE: Interesting...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/26/2002 7:58:12 PM #
Because there is a strong Korean PDA offerring.
Palm is afraid to compete head to head with them.

RE: Interesting...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/26/2002 10:39:26 PM #
Language is not a problem. I have been using Chinese plug-in OS since my PalmPilot Professional. The fonts in Simplified Chinese are very readable and even Tranditional Chinese fonts don't look too bad either.
The really problem is the price and competition. $100 is a bit high for Chinese folks since that's one month salary for a middle class person! I think $50 is the acceptable price for most. Local Chinese companies have developed many kinds of PDA/Dictionary combos and they cost $25-80. Though not as good as a Palm or PocketPC, they are still very usable and most importantly affordable.

RE: Interesting...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/27/2002 3:14:17 AM #
Actually, the luxury levels of Chinese aren't as bad as you descripted. From what I see, most Chinese citizens living in big cities (such as Shanghai, Beijing, etc.) can afford to buy a mid-level PDAs, but the only problem is that PDA isn't as popular as it is in the United States, so most people don't know about its exsistance.

Nowadays, Chinese citizen love to collect new cell-phones.

RE: Interesting...
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/27/2002 3:41:26 AM #
Actually I can't really comment on the situation in mainland China, as I live in HK, I seriously don't know what's going on in there, but from what I hear, the living standard in most "big" city there is actually rising to a standard pretty close to the rest of the world.

But one problem is, they are really not that interested in the PDA thingy, All they see is a over priced datebook, which it's very very hard to input chinese.

RE: Chinese are dumb people
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/26/2002 5:28:06 PM #
Wow! a one sentence generalization of 1 billion+ people around the world.

Not that's not dumb!

The US has no shortage of idiots, either
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/26/2002 5:31:43 PM #
Ed, you should delete this thread.


I.M. Anonymous @ 2/26/2002 5:57:29 PM #
If there was, you'd see a DELL PDA.

China's Legend enters mobile phone market

I.M. Anonymous @ 2/27/2002 7:48:22 AM #

Glad that it's not true

I.M. Anonymous @ 2/27/2002 12:43:54 PM #
Otherwise I'll be really worried, what kind of devices are Legend gonna sell. Visor !? that sounds more like Handspring selling goods that's already written off in the balance sheet (in the other words junk) instead of a real honest partnership.



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