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Handspring retail debut becomes instant chart-topper

US punters 'do the Visor'

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PalmOS licensee Handspring's retail debut last month saw the company beat Palm Computing to the top of the PDA sales chart, according to market researcher PC Data's latest figures. For the week commencing 15 April - Handspring's first in the retail world - the company's Visor Deluxe PDA took 26.8 per cent of retail sales, knocking Palm's popular IIIe into second place with 14.6 per cent. Of course, Palm's other devices fill up the rest of the top five, leading the company with the vast majority of retail sales, and the Visor's chart position may quickly decline, but Handspring's debut is still pretty smart. The irony in all this is that Handspring was formed by the two people - Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky - who originally founded Palm Computing and steered it through its acquisition first by US Robotics and, later, 3Com. Handspring was formed because the pair wanted to take the Palm platform in a different direction than 3Com - the mainstream consumer market - and PC Data's figures would certainly suggest that they got it right. Or have they? PC Data senior analyst Stephen Baker, cited by CNet, said: "It's pretty impressive, considering the market recognition and confidence that Palm has. [But] it's hard to know from the first couple of weeks of sales [how sales will continue]. People have been waiting for the Handspring for a while." PC Data's numbers only cover PalmOS-based devices, but given fellow researcher NPD Intelect's combined numbers, Handspring's Visor will almost certainly have outsold any Windows CE device during the week in question. ® Related Stories Win CE retail market share falls 66 per cent Smoking email suggests Gates ordered PDA techno-sabotage

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