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Handspring's IPO Heads for Success

Fri Jun 16, 2000 - 10:16 AM EDT - By

Why Handspring is Palm

Why Handspring is Palm
  • Appearance -- Have you looked at it? Handspring utilized the tried and trusted shape and design of the Palm organizers and worked from there. Why fix it if it ain't broke.
  • The OS -- Handspring chose not to use the latest Palm OS version. Instead they went with a more stable version that wouldn't bring any surprises.
  • The Founders - Donna Dubinsky and Jeff Hawkins started Palm. They left after the USR and 3Com buyouts and had lost control of the company. So they essentially took their toys and went home to make their own club. It worked. There's more discussion on the founders to come.
Other Factors Indicating Handspring's Upcoming Success
The final outcome of the Handspring IPO will be heavily influenced by current events. Unfortunately no one can predict what is going to happen early next week in the tech industry, but there are certain things we do know.
  • Dubinsky and Hawkins know how to work the press. Dubinsky was named one of ivillage.com's "Women Who'll Rule" for her work in the tech industry relating to Palm and Visor. Hawkins is scheduled to speak at the 18th Annual PC Expo only 1 week after Handspring's IPO. Alan Kessler, President of Palm, is also scheduled to speak. Besides providing an interesting forum the buzz created from the speaking engagement brings forth mention of Handspring, which inevitably leads to mention of the Handspring IPO.
  • The Visor is more versatile than the Palm, and Cheaper. The best part about this is that consumers noticed. In the first week of Visor retail sales (April 15) the Visor Deluxe beat out any Palm Organizer, even the newly released color Palm IIIe, by over 12 percent.
  • PCWorld just announced their top products of the year. Guess who came in as Hardware's top newcomer and Best PDA. The now famous Visor Deluxe, described in the article as "the most sought-after palmtop of the year . . . best Palm that Palm Computing never built."
  • Innuendo. When you've got the team of Dubinsky and Hawkins rumors fly. Will they divert from the path that Palm Computing took? Anyone remember the Palm Professional? The little boxy device without the IR port? Looked a little like the Visor. Now compare to the Palm V - perhaps the sleekest looking of all PDAs. Can Visor users expect a streamlined Visor in the near future. Rumor has it - yes.
  • For Hire. A number of weeks ago (around April 26, 2000) Handspring posted a job listing at guru.com. Specifically they were looking for "short-term contract help on a project involving wireless telephony and data services in a mobile handheld product." Does this mean a Visor module that makes a Visor equivalent to a Palm VII or merely a SuperVisor Deluxe that does the job of a Palm VII, or nothing we can think of right now? Either way the contract term was to be between 4 and 16 weeks. So we should be hearing something soon.
  • Xerox. Yes, Xerox. Xerox's patent infringement lawsuit against 3Com was dismissed by a federal judge in early June. While this wouldn't have a direct impact on Handspring, had Xerox been successful, and 3Com been ordered to pay licensing fees to Xerox for every copy of Graffiti out there, including all the Visors that are around Handspring would have to pay more for a re-license, which would bring up their costs to consumers. With the Xerox claim gone that threat is removed.
  • Half-Brother Bill. Perhaps the greatest threat to Handspring's continued success was the announcement of Microsoft's 3rd attempt at making a PDA -- The PocketPC that had all the bells and whistles that everyone promised they would have. Microsoft's logic in trying the PDA market being that they always hit success the third time around. Not this time. Besides the fact that HP's licensed edition of the PocketPC was a bust, the recent government decision to breakup MS destroyed the PocketPC. The PocketPC was designed entirely by Microsoft -- operating system software AND hardware. The government ordered split of the company puts the PocketPC OS on one half of the split, and the hardware on the other half. The only way around this would be for Company 1 to license to Company 2 on a fair basis - something the government has already decided MS can't be. The PocketPC is garnish for MS. It'll fall by the wayside as MS tries to figure out how they'll work the market now. As one of Microsoft's attorneys said, "The PocketPC initiative pretty much comes to and end."
So what does this all mean? Handspring's potential for expandability and usability in the marketplace is just now being noticed through various industries. Even in the chaos of the dot-coms in the market, techs still have the potential to thrive. This is particularly true of a company with a great product, no anti-trust problems, that actually offers a tangible object that can be used in every part of the day. Handspring's IPO could be the one to produce the latest upswing and resurgence in tech stocks.


 

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