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ABM and Handspring forge regional alliance

Arab Business Machines forms new company to market and distribute Handspring's handheld family in the region.

Arab Business Machines (ABM) has taken up the rights to distribute Handspring's Visor family of handheld computers across the Middle East.

ABM says it will form a new company called Handspring IMC (Independent Marketing Company) to take care of the products. The company will be located in Dubai Internet City but will be under the management of ABM.

The move at first appears unusual for a company that made its reputation promoting the Apple Macintosh computer platform and stuck with it even during its darkest days three years ago. Far from being a retreat from Apple, however, Arab Business Machines insists the tieup fits in with its policy of promoting and extending the Apple platform.

The Handspring, according to senior marketing co-ordinator, Dany Khair, offers excellent integration with Macintosh desktops. If you’re a Mac user and want a handheld that can synchronise smoothly with your desktop, Handspring is the best platform, he says. Coincidence or not, the two Handpsring employees that helped set up the agreement also used to work for Apple.

ABM declined to say what its sales targets for the Handspring might be, but there should be enormous potential. Although handheld computers have made little impact in the Middle East, Handspring has one secret weapon up its sleeve: a GSM module. Plug this into your Handspring and your personal organiser turns into a mobile phone and a wireless Internet access device.

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