By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Suppliers of wireless phones and messaging devices will promote Internet connectivity and PDA functionality during January's CES, where many retailers will get their first chance to scrutinize the first phones incorporating such 2.5G high-speed data technologies as GSM's GPRS (general packet radio service) and CDMA's 1XRTT.
Pager suppliers and carriers will continue to reposition one- and two-way word pagers as Internet extensions that receive e-mail, access Web-based information services, and in some cases, double as trimmed-down PDAs. Even Beepwear, the Motorola-Timex joint venture, will latch onto the Internet theme by introducing a wristwatch word pager to be called the Timex Internet Messenger.
Some of the displayed phones and messaging devices will enable users to access existing e-mail accounts. Messaging carrier Motient, for example, will show a keyboard-equipped Research In Motion 850 messaging device that receives e-mail sent to a user's Yahoo e-mail account. Subscriber replies will appear as if they're being sent from the user's existing Yahoo e-mail box.
Wireless phones with access to existing e-mail accounts will pop up from Kyocera and Samsung, both of which will incorporate the feature in new smartphones.
Kyocera's QCP 6035 Smartphone, a CDMA trimode, is due in the first quarter at an expected $499-$549. It ships with software that retrieves e-mail from a user's existing POP3 corporate or ISP e-mail account. For IMAP e-mail access, users can load third-party Palm application software.
Kyocera's phone will also incorporate Palm's v.3.5 OS, replacing the PALM III-equipped Qualcomm pdQ, which was part of the Qualcomm handset business purchased by Kyocera.
The 6036 weighs 7.34 ounces; delivers up to 4.5 hours of digital talktime or up to 100 hours of standby; and features HTML browser, WAP microbrowser, and Web Clipping applications. A built-in speakerphone and earphone jack lets users talk while using PDA functions. Users can also dial by tapping a number in their Palm contact list.
For its part, Samsung plans to show its first smartphone, which the company said will feature a "Palm-type" form factor and will access existing POP3 and IMAP4 e-mail accounts. It will probably ship in mid-2001 in the United States, a spokesman said. Additional details were unavailable.
Samsung also hopes to demonstrate a CDMA 1X phone, already available in Korea, and a GPRS phone, which it is developing for carrier Voicestream. The company hopes to make 1X phones available this year in the United States and the GPRS phone available in midyear to coincide with Voicestream's GPRS launch.
For its part, Motorola will show a GSM/GPRS phone with POP3 e-mail access. It and another new GSM phone are QWERTY-keyboard-equipped clamshell models that look like two-way pagers, are intended to be message-centric devices, and allow for voice calls via a hands-free headset.
The GPRS model, the Accompli 009 5.6-ounce triband world phone, is expected to be available in late Q1 or early Q2 at an as-yet unannounced price. It features color display, microbrowser, two-way SMS, voice dialing, and a Motorola-developed programmable operating system capable of running application programs. It also supports circuit-switched data and will eventually incorporate IMAP4-server access.
Motorola's second message-centric GSM phone is less featured and more youth-oriented.
The V.100 Personal Communicator at 4.4 ounces lacks GPRS, programmable OS, POP3 e-mail access and personal information (PIM) applications, but it features a telephone directory and voice dialing. It's a single-band 1.9GHz model expected to be available in the United States in late Q1 at an expected retail of less than $250.
Ericsson is also expected to show up with its long-awaited smartphones.
Also on the messaging side, mobile-originated SMS will turn up in new CDMA phones in the expectation that CDMA carriers would launch two-way service in late 2000.
CDMA phones with the feature will be shown by Audiovox, Kyocera and Motorola. The feature is available in all three new Kyocera phones (the 2035 and 3035 and the new Palm-based phone) and in four new Audiovox models.
In TDMA phones, mobile-originated SMS will be shown in the currently available Nokia 5150i, 6160m, 6162m, 8260 and 7100 phones, and on Motorola's V-dot series 2397.
Other wireless messaging exhibitors will include Glenayre, which will show its @ctiveLink two-way wireless-messaging module for the Handspring Visor PDA. It operates on the Metrocall and SkyTel two-way messaging networks.
Though available as part of a bundle with the Visor through online sources at retails up to $549, Glenayre planned this month to sell it unbundled. The unbundled price was unavailable. SkyTel and Metrocall have plans to sell the bundle through retail, but their plans for the unbundled module weren't available.
It wasn't certain at press time whether Glenayre would show planned CDMA and GSM modules for Palm-OS devices, the company said.
Also at the show, WebLink Wireless will talk up its new wireless e-mail access service and expanded push-information services. And Siemens will display wireless phones for the first time in years at CES after reentering the market late last year. Its first model, a world GSM phone, will incorporate personal PIM functions that can by synchronized with popular desktop PIMs.
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