San Antonio — The Progressive Retailers Organization was at the Westin La Cantera Hill Coun
SCHAUMBURG, ILL. — Carriers and retailers have begun selling a folding full-size keyboard that consumers can use with Motorola's iDEN-network i85s and i50sc smart phones at a suggested $99. The Motorola iBoard keyboard can be used to enter text messages and PIM data, launch PIM programs, surf the web, adjust volume, and control other phone functions. It's made by Think Outside, which also makes portable keyboards for handheld computers.
TOKYO — Matsushita and NEC will team up to design and develop 2.5G and 3G wireless phones, but unlike Sony and Ericsson, they won't merge their wireless-handset production, sales and marketing operations. The companies agreed to cooperate in designing common architectures and application software for phones, developing new handsets for the mobile multimedia market, cooperating on product validation, and making joint-development results available to other suppliers.
VERNON HILLS, ILL. — ArialPhone continued to expand distribution of its first consumer product, a cordless earset phone, by reaching a distribution agreement with CommuniTech, an Elk Grove Village, Ill., company that distributes telephony products and hands-free communications and conferencing equipment. CommuniTech's channels include direct sales, resellers, and e-commerce sites. The $399-suggested ArialPhone cordless earset phone lets users voice-dial phone numbers stored in a connected-PC's contact list. Fry's Electronics, RCS Computer Experience, and the Hello Direct catalog are among the company's accounts.
IRVING, TEXAS — Nokia launched its first sub-$100 GSM phone with WAP browser for the U.S. market. The 3395 is a 1.9GHz single-mode GSM phone expected to retail for $75 to $100. The 4.7-ounce phone, due in Q3, features circuit-switched Internet access. It delivers up to 7.5 hours of standby time or 3.75 hours of talk time on the standard battery and comes with internal vibrating alert, arcade-style games. Game upgrades can be downloaded wirelessly from the Internet. Other features include predictive text input, voice dialing, and calendar.
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN — Ericsson and Sony have finalized the terms for merging their wireless handset businesses, putting them on track to start operations on October 1 as previously planned. The merger is still subject to final approval by their boards of directors and regulatory agencies. The joint venture will be called Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications and will start with an initial workforce of 3,500 people. On a pro forma basis, the two companies' handset business achieved annual unit sales last year of about 50 million units and dollar sales of $7.2 billion.