Handspring Deciding

Handheld computer developer Handspring is in the final stages of a review for its estimated $15-20 million advertising and media account. A decision could come as early as this week.
“We have narrowed our initial list of six or seven agencies down to two finalists,” said Claire Dean, director of marketing communications for the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company. “We plan on launching an advertising campaign by the end of this year.”
Dean would not say if the two finalists were local shops, but added that a Bay Area address had been “preferred criteria” in the initial round of chemistry meetings. Dean added that the review process had not excluded shops in other markets.
Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, handles advertising for 3Com’s Palm Computing division. It is not known whether FCB is vying for the Handspring account. Executives with the agency did not return phone calls by press time.
Handspring was created late last year by Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky, former executives with 3Com’s Palm Computing division, maker of the PalmPilot handheld computer. Hawkins and Dubinsky were key players in the development of the original PalmPilot.
Handspring, backed by venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Benchmark Capital, has a licensing agreement with 3Com for its Palm OS technology.
The company is developing affordable handheld computers in the sub-$200 range, using the Palm Computing platform. The products will be marketed heavily to the mainstream consumer market, versus PalmPilot’s focus on advertising primarily to hard-core, business-oriented users.
Dean said Handspring is not a competitor for PalmPilot or its handheld computers and stressed the compatibility of their products. Executives with 3Com have said recently that the company wants to focus more on licensing agreements like the one with Handspring.