Handspring Giving Mobile Phone Add-on Away for Free

Handspring Giving Mobile Phone Add-on Away for Free

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Personal digital assistant maker Handspring Inc. began giving away its expansion cellular phone module for free on Tuesday, only weeks after slashing the price to $49 from $249.

The free offer only applies when the phone is purchased along with a handheld through Handspring’s Web site, and then immediately activated through a compatible carrier.

Customers in California and Massachusetts will have to pay taxes of $15 to $25 on the free module, based on respective state laws, according to the fine print on Handspring’s site.

Calls to the company for comment were not immediately returned.

The VisorPhone module, which runs on cellular networks using the Global System for Mobile (GSM) standard, slips into the proprietary Springboard expansion port on the back of Handspring’s Visor handhelds and turns the device into a cell phone, using an on-screen keypad and the handheld’s microphone as the mouthpiece.

When it announced the price cut to $49 on July 16, the company acknowledged that the device had underperformed expectations.

“It just hasn’t sold as quickly in the volumes we had hoped it would sell,” a spokesman for Mountain View, California-based Handspring said at the time. The VisorPhone began shipping on Dec. 18 of last year.

On August 2, developer AirPrime and cellular carrier Sprint PCS Group announced they would offer a phone module for the Visor that ran on CDMA networks. That module is expected to be available at Sprint PCS stores next month for $250.

This new offer comes on the heels of price cuts for most of its handhelds that Handspring announced on August 20. The company cut suggested prices on its devices anywhere from $20 on lower-end models up to $100 on its relatively new Visor Edge unit.

Handspring shares closed down 18.15 percent at $2.21 a share on Nasdaq. The stock traded as high at $99.31 during the past 52 weeks.

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