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Pocket PC Gains Cellphone Capability

Cannes, France–Microsoft announced several wireless phone ventures today, including a new Phone Edition application which will provide Pocket PC 2002 phones with the ability to offer one touch phone calling and simple Internet, email and data access via GSM and GPRS cellular networks.

Hewlett-Packard was one of the first vendors to announce it will offer Phone Edition, with the release of the Jornada 928 Wireless Digital Assistant during the first half this year in Europe with U.S. release to follow later in 2002. The 928 is a color GSM/GPRS enabled Pocket PC 2002 unit with voice activation. It has 64 MB and a CompactFlash slot but it maintains the small form factor similar to the Jornada 568. It also has a 16-bit color reflective TFT display and it uses a Texas Instruments OMAP 710 processor. Pricing was not announced.

In addition, to one-touch dialing from a contact list, Phone Edition will offer the ability to view and edit PIM data from the phone application. Other features include call log, call notification, caller ID, speed dial, conference calling and a speaker phone, and has SMS/Inbox integration and personalized ring tones with any WAV file. Phone Edition also supports multiple wide area networks (WANs) and WiFi

Microsoft also announced at the 3GSM World Congress 2002 being held here that it has completed a smart phone reference package in conjunction with Texas Instruments for 2.5G phones using Microsoft Smartphone 2002 software. The first of these units are expected to ship this year. Microsoft said further, it is working with Intel to develop a reference platform for both Intel based smart phones and PDAs, the first of which should be available next year.

Product manager for Microsoft’s mobility group, Ed Suanjiandar said, ‘We think our investments around these smart devices is a key enabler to unlock the promise of wireless data. We think we can kick start this wireless data market and help these markets take off.’

As PDAs grow increasingly voice and data enabled, and cellphones gain PDA capability in the form of smart phones, analysts said the market will accommodate a wide range of products. According to Samir Bhavnani, handheld analyst for ARS, La Jolla, Calif., PDA users who, ‘have a hundred contact names in their PDA,’ may opt for a PDA with phone capability while another user who prefers the convenient size of the cellphone but at times needs to look up a contact, may choose to maintain a phone and a PDA which he connects via bluetooth.

Said Alex Slawsby analyst for International Data Corp. Framingham, Mass., ‘People don’t want to carry five devices so they would like some integration, but everyone wants something different. Microsoft has put together a three pronged strategy with Pocket PC standalone PDAs, smart phones and Pocket PC Phone edition.’

However, PDAs with phone capability will be a very small part of the overall handset market, Slawsby said. ‘We project that in 2005 the number of voice enabled handhelds will total 5 million in shipments worldwide, so its only 16 percent of the total PDA market which will be 40 million units. The compares to 650 million plus cellphones in 2005.’