By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
LG InfoComm will concentrate exclusively on marketing CDMA 2000 1xRTT handsets beginning in December to help carriers Verizon and Sprint PCS seed the market for their later commercial launches of 1x service, said technical support director Curtis Wick.
"All new products starting in December will be 1x," Wick said. "Our last legacy handset, the CDMA trimode TM-220, will launch with Alltel in November."
In planning to ship its first 1x phone in December, "We could be the first in the U.S.," Wick said. "It will be a photo-finish with Audiovox and Samsung."
LG's 1x timetable looks like this:
December shipment of the TP-5250 dual-band to Sprint PCS;
fourth-quarter shipment of the LG-VX1 trimode to Verizon;
first-quarter shipment of a trimode PDA phone with touchscreen to Sprint;
first-quarter launch of LG-VX10 with color LCD and BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) for Verizon.
LG will also offer Sun's Java-based J2ME (Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition) technology, and Qualcomm's BREW, to add computing applications to the phones and enable over-the-air downloads of applications. The apps could potentially exchange data with applications residing on corporate servers or on content-provider servers. Sprint handsets will feature J2ME, and Verizon's will have BREW.
"J2ME requires more processing power than BREW, which is a thin client, but J2ME has more Java developers," Wick said of the two.
One of the company's first two 1x handsets is the dual-band TP-5250, LG's first co-branded phone with Sprint, Wick said. "All future Sprint phones from LG will be co-branded."
The clamshell-style 5250 is the same size and weight as its 2G predecessor but, in a 1x network, it will deliver a small percentage boost in digital talk and standby times from the predecessor's 150 minutes/150 hours. The wholesale price will be only "a very small percentage" higher, Wick added. Sprint retails the 2G version for $69 to $129, depending on market and promotion.
The 5250 will also feature Openwave UP 4.1 microbrowser, which lets carriers push provisioning and location-based information, such as ads, to phones. Previously, carriers had to get users to pull down provisioning data, such as preferred roaming lists, via SMS, but now carriers will be able to push the data to phones at will and regularly update preferred roaming lists, Wick explained.
Early next year, LG will make a running change to add J2ME to the 5250. Current users will be able to go to Sprint offices for a J2ME upgrade.
Another version of the clamshell phone, trimode LG-VX1, is due to Verizon. It will deliver slightly longer talk and standby times than the Sprint phone at 180 minutes/200 hours but features fewer lines of text display: 6 lines.
In mid-first quarter, the VX1 will metamorphose into the VX-10, which will add BREW, 32MB of flash memory, color LCD, and extended digital talk and standby times of 200 minutes/250 hours.
LG's first 1x PDA phone will be the TM-910 trimode, available to Verizon in the first quarter. The 910 uses a proprietary PDA OS that allows for a narrow screen that enables the device to fit easily in a pocket. By not paying royalties to Palm, he added, LG reduces a consumer's cost by $70 to $100. On the other hand, LG's smartphone can't run all applications created by Palm's developer community.
The device offers many of the same features as LG's other 1x phones, but it adds a two-sided dialing keypad that flips open to reveal a large 160x240-pixel grayscale LCD touchscreen.
A dialing keypad is on the outside of the flip, and additional keys face the user from the keypad's back side when the flip is opened.
Other features include access to POP3 e-mail accounts and a PIM application that synchronizes with Outlook, Lotus and ACT. Bluetooth is an option. Sometime next year a running change will be made to add BREW.
Despite its 1x capability, the new model is two-thirds the size of its 2G predecessor. Although LG didn't reveal pricing, the company said Sprint retailed the discontinued 2G PDA phone for $399 at launch before cutting the price to $299.
Around the third quarter 2002, LG will begin to make running changes to add gpsOne location technology.
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