The Feast From the

By eweek  |  Posted 2003-03-17 Print this article Print

East"> Much of this bonanza for CDMA users within the US is courtesy two companies far outside its borders. South Korean electronics giants Samsung and LG, better known to most Americans for their entertainment products, had been aggressively growing market share to the point that GSM loyalists such as Nokia and Sony Ericsson had to wake up and smell the café americano. With Samsung now playing in both camps, so must they. Samsung and LG began by mimicking popular if by now dated designs by the likes of Motorola, but the other message that seems to be coming outof this years show is that its not enough for a handset to be all style and no substance. Cuustomers are starting to become aware that phones can do more than just hold the contents of a major metropolitan phne directory in their memory, and are expecting to be excited by whats inside.
The GSM camp isnt without its own bragging rights this year. Microsoft and TI, fresh from their collaboration on SPOT watches, are showing off a versatile reference design that incorporates GPRS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth into one device called WANDA. Perhaps the main reason why the GSM camp is a little light on the goods at CTIA is that it got to strut its stuff on its home turf at CeBIT last week. Samsung, Panasonic, Motorola and others showed new models aimed at the European, i.e., GSM user, including the showstopping GPRS watch phone with Bluetooth and an OLED display.
Such a breakthrough certainly wont come cheap, but most US cellular customers wont be able to use it at any price because it wont work on their cell phone network. Until now, CDMA has been a technology decision that appealed to visionary carriers which, through the aggressive acquisition strategy of Verizon Wireless, has resulted in strong network coverage. However, with two of the more innovative handset makers getting into the field, the networks first Bluetooth-enabled handset opening the door for many laptops and handhelds, and the USs largest carrier about to unleash a high-speed version of its laptop data product, CDMAs technical benefits may for the first time reach beyond the telecom engineer. Wireless Supersite Editor Ross Rubin is a senior analyst at eMarketer. He has researched wireless communications since 1994 and has been covering technology since 1989.


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