By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
San Diego — Leap Wireless pared about 15 percent of its indirect sales locations because they were "underperforming or suspected of improper activity," president/CEO Susan Swenson said. The reduction followed the implementation of new antifraud procedures, including new identity-validation requirements to cut down on credit-card fraud. Leap also found that some dealers created phantom accounts to inflate commission income. During the two months ending July 3, "We estimate we have prevented the activation of, or otherwise cleared from our system, approximately 50,000 people who would not or could not provide appropriate identification," Swenson said.
San Francisco — California's Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is probing Cingular Wireless after receiving more than 4,700 complaints since 1999 about the carrier's service and cancellation fees. Complaints involved limited coverage areas, frequently dropped calls, misleading ads, and high cancellation fees. "Customers felt trapped into inadequate service with Cingular," The PUC said.
San Diego — Kyocera Wireless plans fourth-quarter delivery of a new portable keyboard for its new 7135 Palm-based smartphone, also due in the fourth. The foldable $99-suggested keyboard is said to provide the same size, feel and response of notebook computer keyboards and adds special shortcut and command keys. A new feature lets people continue using the keyboard while receiving e-mail or while talking on the phone. Folded, it measures 3.6x5.1x0.8 inches.
Waterloo, Ontario — Research In Motion said a trio of new BlackBerry e-mail handhelds is due later this year. The company plans versions for iDEN, CDMA 1X, and GSM/GPRS networks. The latter model, due in the fall, will be a 1.9GHz/900MHz "world" model that will operate in U.S. and foreign bands. A current GSM/GPRS model, available through VoiceStream, operates in the U.S. 1.9GHz band. The iDEN and 1X models are due sometime "later this year," the company said. The handhelds lets users place voice calls through a hands-free headset, and it lets users receive e-mail sent to their desktop's e-mail address.
Atlanta — EarthLink, the wireless and landline ISP EarthLink, launched two new services: a subscription music-download service and e-mail access without a PC. The e-mail service, called Email-by-Phone, lets users access, send and receive e-mail from any landline or wireless phone. A computer-generated voice reads e-mail from a user's in box, and users can send e-mail as a WAV audio file attachment. The music service, based n Full Audio's platform, offers more than 75,000 songs from all of the big five music companies except Sony. The subscription download service costs $9.95/month for 50 downloads per month and $17.95 for 100 tracks per month.
San Francisco — Content provider Mazingo has added Weather Channel video forecasts to its wireless-data services. The video, delivered to Pocket PCs and Windows CE device, includes national video forecasts, local video forecasts for the top 25 cities, and conditions and forecasts for 80,000 locations worldwide. For PDA's lacking wireless capability, the data is downloaded when the PDA is synchronized with a PC.
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.