Handspring lops off 20 percent from workforce

In a cost-cutting move, Handheld maker Handspring has trimmed its global workforce by 20 percent, as the company shifts some of its marketing and product development work to the wireless carriers it partners with, company spokesman Allen Bush confirmed Wednesday.

The maker of the Treo Communicator combination phone-PDA (personal digital assistant) reduced its staff from 400 to about 320 employees. "It was part of a restructuring effort that's going to enable us to cut costs and focus on the business," Bush said.

The layoffs were announced to employees on Monday and were spread across Handspring's worldwide workforce. Its marketing department took the biggest hit, according to Bush. Handspring said it plans to share more of its development and marketing efforts with partners.

"We're going to focus more on working with carriers to develop Communicator products and distribute them through their channels," Bush said.

The Mountain View, California, company is already teaming with Sprint PCS Group, and has made available the Treo for Sprint's next-generation wireless network.

"We've seen through our relationship with Sprint how effective we can be when we work with carriers to develop products that work well on their networks," Bush said.

The reduction is also intended to help it reach break-even, Handspring said. The company plans to give further details about its reorganization on Oct. 17 when it announces its 2003 first fiscal quarter earnings.

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