By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
BEDMINSTER, N.J. — Verizon Wireless joined Microsoft in launching a co-developed, co-branded, and jointly marketed wireless data service featuring content from Microsoft's MSN portal. The "VZW with MSN" service also features wireless MSN Messenger instant messaging service, which is available for the first time in the U.S. as a mobile service. The service is the default service for new Verizon Wireless customers who subscribe to it. The service lets consumers access popular MSN services from any Web-enabled Verizon digital phone. The services include MSN Hotmail, Microsoft .NET alerts, and MSN information services. The data-service marketing campaign features a nationwide advertising campaign, promotion on MSN, promotions in more than 1,200 Verizon Wireless Communications Stores and thousands of retail outlets operated by retailers, and direct marketing to more than 100 million consumers annually. For enterprise users, Verizon is teaming up with Microsoft to market Microsoft's .NET Enterprise Server, which lets users take their Outlook functionality on the road.
HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. — Audiovox has begun shipping a pair of CDMA 1X phones, the PocketPC-based Thera and the gpsOne-equipped 9155-GPX, to carriers. The dual-band Thera is already available through Verizon's national sales team, carrier-owned retail locations, and the company's web site at $799. The carrier didn't say when indirect retail channels would get the device. Audiovox's first gpsOne-equipped 1X phone is the CDMA trimode 9155-GPX, which also incorporates Bluetooth. The handset also features Web browser UP 4.1, two-way short message service (SMS)*, voice-activated dialing, vibrating alert, 11 melody ringer, four ringtone selections, and a two-way speakerphone at a suggested $299, although carrier subsidies will probably reduce actual pricing.
REDMOND, WASH. — AT&T Wireless began offering the industry's first GSM/TDMA phone, the Siemens S46 at $199, through its direct and indirect channels. The quad-band (800/900/1800/1900MHz) world phone, which incorporates GPRS, is available in the carrier's GSM markets. Distribution will expand to other markets where GSM service is inaugurated. It's bundled with two voice plans: a one-rate plan starting at $59.99 for 450 minutes, including all roaming and domestic long distance; another plan starting at $34.99 for 300 minutes includes long distance if the call is made on an AT&T GSM or TDMA network. Data is extra. The plans are priced competitively with plans available with other AT&T phones. GSM is available in 25 of AT&T's top 100 markets and will be in almost every AT&T market by the end of the year, except for small rural markets mainly in the Carolinas. The carrier's networks reach 98 percent of the U.S. population.
MIAMI — TracFone Wireless, the prepaid wireless-phone supplier, diversified its prepaid portfolio with the launch of prepaid roadside assistance. The service, called TracFone 24-Hour Roadside Assistance, is available through almost 2,600 Wal-Mart stores and Supercenters. Consumers buy a prepaid Roadside Assistance card for $49.74 to cover up to five family members in the U.S. and Canada. Consumers activate service via a toll-free phone call or visiting www.24roadside.com. The assistance provider is Road America, which has 3.5 million subscribers.
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.— The global handset industry will grow from a factory-level $60 billion this year to more than $100 billion in 2006, in part because a growing de-emphasis on prepaid subscribers in many parts of the world will reduce demand for low-featured, low-margin handsets, according to In-Stat/MDR analyst Ray Jodoin. "While voice will continue to drive the worldwide market for the foreseeable future," he said, "data can help drive handset sales, not to mention margins, as well as carriers' Average Revenue per Users (ARPUs), upward. This is contingent, however, on whether the content and price are right, which they currently are not." In-Stat/MDR (http://www.instat.com) and TWICE are owned by Reed Elsevier.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.