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A/V, Games Share Wireless ’04 Spotlight

3/19/2004 02:10:00 PM Eastern

Atlanta — It almost seems as if International CES is moving here this week, under the guise of Wireless 2004.

Handset suppliers at the show plan to integrate megapixel digital cameras, MP3 players, FM radios, PDAs, game players and video players into more phones.

Some of the devices are on display at a show-within-a-show called the Mobile Entertainment Expo, which accounts for 20,000 of Wireless 2004’s 300,000 square feet of exhibit space. Inside the Expo, attendees will also get a glimpse of what’s to come in the downloading and streaming of music, video and video games.

On the main show floor, attendees will find the first megapixel camera phones targeted to the U.S. market and a growing selection of phones equipped with high-speed EDGE and CDMA 1X EV-DO wireless-data technologies. Both technologies can be used to send or receive streaming video.

Two-way video calling is a feature available in third-generation W-CDMA phones, and at least three suppliers — Nokia, NEC and Motorola — will display U.S.-market W-CDMA phones at the show (see story, p. 38).

Companies unveiling their first megapixel camera phones include Kyocera, LG InfoComm, Nokia and Motorola. Sony Ericsson will show its first EDGE phone, and LG will show its first EV-DO phone, joining a previously announced EV-DO PDA phone from Audiovox.

The show, hosted by the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA), will also give the trade a peek at:

  • A growing selection of push-to-talk (PTT) phones, with Kyocera showing its second CDMA model and Sony Ericsson showing its first two models, both for GSM networks.

  •  Kyocera and Sony Ericsson cameraphones that look like a camera on one side and a phone on the other.

  • The first Sony Ericsson and Kyocera phones that swivel to open up.

  • A greater selection of camera phones with built-in LED light for taking pictures in low-light conditions. They include the first such phones from LG InfoComm, Panasonic and Sony Ericsson.

  • More phones with speaker-independent voice recognition. Motorola and LG will show at least one each.

These and other phones will tap into a growing trend by consumers to use phones for entertainment as well as for communication and information.

Game downloads, for example, are accelerating. In the United States, IDC believes the number of consumers who will download games over the air to their handsets will grow from 7.9 percent of all wireless subscribers in 2003 to 34.7 percent, or 65.2 million users, in 2008.

"In the next 12 months," said IDC senior research analyst Dana Thorat, "carriers plan to aggressively promote wireless games to their subscribers while offering new lineups of compelling titles, including those that support multiplayer gaming and limited 3D rendering."

Likewise, the potential for picture messaging is growing because of double-digit gains in the sale of phones with integrated cameras. In 2004, In-Stat/MDR forecasts North American factory-level sales of 10.5 million integrated camera phones, or 13.3 percent of total phones shipped to carriers and retailers (see table). In 2005, In-Stat forecasts a 115 percent jump in integrated camera phone sales to 22.6 million, or 27.2 percent of all phones sold.

Also on the upswing are smartphones and PDA phones equipped with multimedia applications. They’ll account for about 43 percent of vendors’ global handset sales in 2008, or 290 million units, according to a forecast by the Zelos Group of San Francisco. "The mass adoption of full-featured handsets will be disruptive," said Zelos senior analyst Seamus McAteer. "Consumers will substitute use of PDAs, digital cameras, gaming consoles and music players."

Here’s how select cellular suppliers hope to make that happen: (For details on introductions from Sony Ericsson, Kyocera, Digit Wireless, and LG InfoComm, see p. 40 and p. 42).

Audiovox: An expanded portfolio of wireless-phone technologies includes Audiovox’s first push-to-talk (PTT) phone and the company’s first PDA phone equipped with CDMA 1X EV-DO high-speed data technology. They were shown at CES.

Danger: The Palo Alto company plans to show an upgraded version of its hiptop phone/entertainment device. The current GSM/GPRS color-screen device features QWERTY keyboard, HTML Web browsing, games, personal organizer, e-mail, AOL Instant Messenger and optional camera attachment. The upgraded version, whose feature set and design haven’t been finalized, will include integrated VGA camera and revamped design that makes it more comfortable to use for voice calling. Its calendar and contact functions will synchronize directly with Microsoft Outlook for the first time rather than with a Danger-provided desktop PIM. Additional external buttons will let users access select functions even when the device is closed. A dedicated numeric dialing pad will appear within the QWERTY keyboard, complementing a separate row of numbers that remains.

It will be 25 percent thinner than the current model with a swiveling screen that, when opened, will be flush with the unit’s face. The new configuration will make it more comfortable to hold to your ear when placing a call.

Motorola: The V710 Media Phone is a CDMA 1X trimode phone that will be the company’s first megapixel-camera phone, the company’s first North American CDMA phone with video capture, and one of its first U.S. phones with integrated MP3 player. It will also be among the first CDMA Bluetooth phones in North America and one of the first speaker-independent voice-recognition phones.

The phone features a 1.2-megapixel camera, integrated MP3 Player, removable T-Flash memory (see p. 6) and 2.2-inch 260K color display.

Additional details were unavailable.

Nokia: The two phones unveiled by the company include the thin, fashion-oriented 7610, a Symbian-based smartphone that is the company’s first megapixel-camera phone. The high-tier GSM/ GPRS world phone operates in the 850/1,800/1,900MHz bands and is expected to retail in the second quarter for about $500.

The 4.13-ounce 7610, which will be available in dual-tone ruby and onyx-color covers, features 1,152-by-864-pixel resolution camera, video-clip capturing, 4x zoom, self-timer, 65K color screen and RealOne mobile player to watch streaming video. It also features integrated Bluetooth, MP3/AAC music player, 72MB expandable memory, ability to download Java applications, USB connection and MMS. It delivers up to three hours of talk time or 250 hours of standby time.

The 7610 can capture up to 10 minutes of video, which can be edited on the phone with added music, text or special effects for sending via MMS.

The second phone, the 6255, is a 4.2-ounce trimode CDMA 1X clamshell model with VGA camera, zoom, flash, dual color screens, MP3/AAC player, MMC slot, integrated Bluetooth, ability to capture video clips and ability to stream video.

It is said to be Nokia’s most advanced CDMA 1X handset and is expected to be available in the fourth quarter.

Panasonic: The 2004 lineup, which expands the company’s picture phone selection, is Panasonic’s first lineup to add color displays to all models. All three models in the lineup are GSM/GPRS models with four download time slots (Class 8), allowing for downloads at rates up to about 55Kbps if supported by a network. They’re available on the company’s Web site to consumers. The company plans to build a distributor base to market the phones to carriers.

The three-model selection includes the company’s first active flip phone. It is the 900/1,800/1,900MHz X70. The dual-LCD clamshell phone is smaller than the GU87 camera phone that it replaces and adds non-flash photo light. It features 65K color display, 110,000-pixel camera resolution, 2x zoom, 1.9-inch 132-pixel-by-176-pixel display, 4MB memory to store pictures, MMS, picture caller ID, 16 polyphonic ring tones and Bluetooth. It weighs 3.35 ounces and delivers up to 6 hours of talk time or up to 300 hours of standby time.

The 850/1,900MHz G60, the company’s first phone to accept a camera attachment, is a low- to mid-tier candy-bar model. The VGA camera attachment features photo light, timer and mirror for taking self-portraits. Other features include speakerphone, vibrating alert, MMS and 128-pixel-by-128-pixel 4K color display.

The entry-level G51 is a candy-bar world phone that operates on 850/ 1,800/1,900MHz networks. It weighs 2.6 ounces and delivers up to six hours of talk time or up to 200 hours of standby time. Features include 4K-color display, speakerphone, vibrating alert and choice of silver or midnight-blue colors.

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