Handspring ships one millionth Visor

To celebrate, the company is auctioning off an autographed PDA and new VisorPhone module

Handspring announced Wednesday it shipped its one millionth Visor PDA. To celebrate, the company is going to offer up the unit, a Visor Prism, and the first hotly anticipated VisorPhone module on eBay.

The Visor Prism and VisorPhone are signed by Handspring chief product officer Jeff Hawkins, who is often referred to as the father of the PDA for inventing the Palm Pilot in 1994.

Proceeds of the sale will go to the Special Olympics of Northern California. Highest bid at midday was $1,625 (£1,144).

The VisorPhone will be based on Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) wireless networks and will be available before the end of the year at $299 (£207.40).

The one millionth unit comes after just over one year in business. Handspring is recognised as the leading challenger to Palm's control of the PDA market, but its market share has been dwindling over the last few months.

Data from research firm NPD Intelect indicates that the company has lost significant share from July, when the company had 26 percent of the market, to October, when it had just under 15 percent. While Handspring has shipped a million units, Palm claims 9 million PDAs in the market.

Palm: Doing some damage prior to the Palm m100 launch in August, Palm did not have a PDA that competed with Handspring on price. Visor units topped at about $250, which is where Palm devices started. The Palm m100 is attributed for doing most of the damage to Handspring because of its $149 price.

Handspring announced in October two units: the Prism with a color LCD and the Platinum. Both use 33MHz Motorola Dragonball VZ processors. All Handspring PDAs come with expandability through a Springboard slot, a key advantage over rival Palm.

"Palm devices aren't easily expandable," said ARS analyst Matt Sargent. "And that's where Handspring has the key differentiator over Palm."

At the launch of the Visor PDA last year, numerous modules were demonstrated and were expected to be out before the end of 2000, but production problems delayed shipments.

The company recently released a list of 25 expansion modules available to make use of the Springboard expansion slot. The list includes wireless modems, GPS, MP3 players, voice recorder, digital camera, as well as the VisorPhone module.

"With 25 modules, users can definitely take advantage of the expandability. They can do it with half that," said Sargent.

The Handspring auction on eBay ends Monday.

Handspring also announced that its Visor line and expansion modules are available across the Middle East.

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