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The two originators of the PalmPilot handheld are to open a 'second front' for the platform, designing derivative products aimed at consumer markets via their new company, Handspring. Donna Dubinsky and Jeff Hawkins left 3Com, which now owns Palm Computing and the PalmPilot, earlier this year. Handspring has backing from VC outfits Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers and Benchmark Capital, and a licence for the Palm Computing platform from 3Com, so although the departure of the founders may have caused 3Com some angst, relations must be tolerable. Former VP marketing Ed Colligan has however also jumped ship for Handspring. The first products from the company are expected late next year, but Handspring's proposed market possibly says more about 3Com's positioning of its version of the PalmPilot. The device was a consumer product at launch, and at least arguably still is. 3Com acquired it when it took over US Robotics, and would probably be more comfortable if it were to put a corporate focus on its version of the device, or even to concentrate on licensing deals, downscaling its own production efforts. The company has yet to finalise the management of Palm Computing in the wake of the founders' departure, so must still be formulating its ideas. ® Click for more stories

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