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Motorola To Exit Pager Market

Boynton Beach, Fla. — Motorola, which introduced the first pager in the mid-1950s and still sells more pagers in the U.S. than anyone else, is exiting the market.

The company, which began early this year to contract out all pager manufacturing, will stop distributing one-way pagers and ReFlex-format two-way pagers in mid-2002. The company will concentrate on marketing two-way messaging devices that operate on GSM and CDMA wireless-voice networks. The company already offers two such devices and plans to distribute a third in a few weeks.

Miguel Pellon, VP/GM of Motorola’s wireless messaging division, acknowledged the paging industry’s economic woes when he said ‘sales of our traditional one- and two-way messaging products are migrating to demand for two-way messaging for use on cellular networks with integrated product offerings and increased functionality.’

Messaging carriers were officially informed of the decision a few weeks ago and have been working with other companies to secure alternate source of manufacturing for two-way devices, which only Motorola currently distributes. Those sources could include Motorola’s current contract manufacturer, Celestica, said one carrier.

U.S. carriers already market one-way pagers made by PerComm, Standard Telecom, and others, who have eroded Motorola’s one-way share because of lower manufacturing costs, carriers said.

Motorola’s current contract manufacturer won’t be allowed to market products under the Motorola name nor continue to manufacture Motorola’s current models under any other brand name, Motorola said. That means the Talkabout T900 and Timeport two-way P935 will become historic artifacts along the lines of the Handie Talkie, Motorola’s first pager. Introduced in 1955, it was used for on-site paging networks in hospitals and other venues, Motorola said. The first public-network pager was Motorola’s Page Boy, a tone-only pager launched in 1964. It was picked up by AT&T in 1965 and marketed under the Bell Boy name. Other carriers also offered paging service at the time to compete with AT&T.