Handspring Down to Finalists

2 Shops Remain in $15-20 Mil. Tech Review
SAN FRANCISCO–Handheld computer developer Handspring is in the final stages of a review for its $15-20 million ad 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.”
A Bay Area address had been among the “preferred criteria” in the initial round of chemistry meetings, but Dean added that the review had not excluded shops in other markets.
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.
Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, handles 3Com’s Palm Computing division. It is not known whether FCB is vying for Handspring also. Agency executives did not return calls by press time.
Handspring is developing affordable handheld computers in the less-than-$200 range, using the Palm Computing platform. The products will be marketed heavily to the mainstream consumer market, versus PalmPilot’s focus on business users.
Dean said Handspring is not a competitor for PalmPilot and stressed the compatibility of their products.