Handheld prices continue to fall

Handheld prices continue to fall

Handspring has announced a US$99 retail price, after a $150 rebate, for its Treo 180 and 180g Communicator devices.

The 180s are both GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) voice and data monochrome devices that use the Palm operating system and T-Mobile for cellular service. The major difference between the two is the built-in keyboard on the Treo 180 and the use of Graffiti on the 180g without keyboard.

Handspring's announcement comes less than 30 days after the introduction of lower priced handhelds from Hewlett-Packard, specifically the Model 1910 at $299, and the Dell Computer Axim 5 for $199.

The $99 price point is indicative of a number of trends, the first of which may be that consumer and enterprise buyers want colour devices.

"Sales of the Treo 270 colour device far outstripped monochrome sales," said David Hayden, president of MobileWeek.

Hayden also said that the channel was not properly educated on how to sell the product, noting that salespeople in the carriers' retail outlets need to be trained on selling feature-rich data devices.

"The $99 price will help clear out Handspring's and the carriers' inventory," Hayden added.

The most recent sell-through numbers from IDC indicate a 6 per cent drop in sales of handhelds of all types for the third quarter of 2002 compared to the same period last year.

"Over the holiday season the sub-$200 price point will drive volume sales," Hayden said.

In related handheld news, Adobe Systems will ship this week its Acrobat Reader Version 5.0 for mobile phones running the Symbian operating system. Version 5.0 for Symbian will allow users to open PDF files on data phones. The new version is a free download at Adobe's Web site. In its initial offering it will be for Nokia 9290 and 9210 handsets.

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