Wireless service provider Rogers AT&T Wireless announced Wednesday a deal to be an exclusive Canadian carrier of Handspring Inc.’s new line of handheld devices.

Available this April, the “steel-blue”-coloured Treo 180 Communicator integrates a wireless phone, wireless e-mail and Palm OS organizer into one device, the companies said.

The product features 16 MB of memory, an integrated dual-band GSM radio module, 60 hours standby time and over two hours of talk time.

“We’re pleased to be working with Rogers to introduce the device to the Canadian market,” said Greg Woock, North American sales vice-president for Handspring in Mountain View, Calif.

Woock added the Treo 180 series’ all-in-one voice, two-way text messaging, and PDA capabilities should appeal to both consumers and IT users.

Mansell Nelson, interactive mobile services vice-president for Rogers AT&T Wireless agreed, and said the Treo family of communicators is an addition to a “robust” GSM/GPRS line-up.

Rogers has clearly endorsed and committed to Handspring’s offering – this announcement may also impact the entire handheld market, said Albert Daoust, a handheld computer market analyst for Evans Research in Toronto.

The fact that Rogers is an exclusive carrier for the Treo 180 series should allow Handspring to grab a larger slice of a Canadian wireless market pie that currently features main competitors Waterloo, Ont.-based Research In Motion (RIM) and Mississauga, Ont.’s Palm Inc., Daoust said.

He added the deal “might be something that will be attracting new users to Palm OS products.”

“Carriers don’t just stick something on the shelf and hope it sells,” Daoust said.

“This is very good for Handspring – (Rogers) feels that (Handspring) is now a mature company, (with) secure business procedures and believes that they’re still going to be here two years from now,” he noted.

“In the medium- to short-term this could increase (Handspring’s) market share and put them in the 30 per cent plus range…this is a major breakthrough for them.”

Pricing for the Treo 180 series starts at $749.99 with a two-year Rogers AT&T service plan through its dealer and retail locations across Canada, the companies said.

Rogers Wireless Inc. is at Toronto is at http://www.rogers.com

Handspring Inc. in Mountain View, Calif. is at http://www.handspring.com