Communications Briefs

Staff On Aug 6 2001 - 6:00am




Microsoft Buys Into Sendo

BIRMINGHAM, U.K. — Microsoft has taken a minority stake in Sendo, the start-up British wireless-phone maker that is developing a smartphone based on Microsoft's Stinger smartphone platform. Details of the transaction weren't disclosed. Sendo's smartphone, a triband (1900, 1800, 900MHz) GSM world phone, incorporates GPRS (general packet radio service) technology. Its PIM applications are scaled-down versions of Microsoft's desktop PIMs, and it features Microsoft Mobile Explorer to access standard HTML Web sites. The phone also features WAP and cHTML (iMode) microbrowsers, and it can open, but not edit, Microsoft Word attachments. "Depending on the maturity of the GPRS networks," Sendo said, "the company expects to launch the product towards the end of the year or beginning of next year." Sendo is majority-owned by management and employees, but a major investor is Hong Kong's CCT, one of the world's largest cordless phone manufacturers.

No Price Wars For Nokia

HELSINKI — Nokia CEO Jorma Ollila said his company won't cut the average price of its handsets in response to competitors who are cutting prices to reduce their inventories. Some competitors have gained share in recent months after they've cut prices, but Olilla said during a conference call with analysts that "price-cutting and selling at a loss, as many of these competitors are doing … cannot continue for too long." The company retains its No. 1 share of worldwide unit sales.

CTIA Pushes For Education

WASHINGTON — The Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) cited government statistics on wireless-phone use in vehicles to bolster its claim that education, not legislation, should be the priority in the war against driver distraction. CTIA cites National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics showing that at any given time, only 3 percent of drivers are using a wireless phone. "If 3 percent of drivers are using phones, that clearly doesn't reach the threshold for legislation," said Dee Yankoskie, CTIA's education program manager. "It does emphasize the fact that drivers need to be educated on the myriad of distractions they face, from eating, changing a CD, talking to other passengers, or talking on a wireless phone. Education is what can impact behavior across the board." She said the wireless industry has led a campaign for the past three years to educate drivers about all the distractions they must avoid.

Ups, Downs In Sub Growth

LONDON — The number of net new wireless subscribers in the United States and Canada will grow 45.5 percent to 31 million in 2001, but then it will dip by 18 percent in 2002 to 25.3 million, according to the EMC market research company. In 2003, the number will head back up by 4.3 percent to 26.4 million, the company said. Worldwide, the number of net new subscribers will grow 55.4 percent in 2001 to 303.6 million, rise again in 2002 by 14.8 percent to 348.5 million, and dip in 2003 by 1.5 percent to 343 million. The subscriber base will continue to expand during that time, breaking a billion worldwide by the end of 2001, on the way to 2.27 billion by year-end 2005. In the U.S. and Canada, the subscriber base will hit 139.9 million by the end of 2001 and 239.7 million by year-end 2005.

Amazon Signs Up AT&T

SEATTLE — Amazon.com formed another alliance with a wireless carrier to let consumers shop its site via an Internet-capable phone. The latest alliance, with AT&T Wireless, lets users of AT&T Digital PocketNet service shop on Amazon. Amazon also has alliances with AirTouch Cellular, Bell Mobility, Nextel and Sprint PCS.

ArialPhone Adds Retailers

VERNON HILLS, ILL. — ArialPhone announced an expanded roster of retail accounts for its $399-suggested ArialPhone cordless earset phone, which lets users voice-dial phone numbers stored in a PC's contact list. Fry's Electronics and RCS Computer Experience are among the retail accounts, joining the Hello Direct catalog. The product was initially available through ArialPhone's Web site.

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