Page Two

By Carmen Nobel  |  Posted 2003-03-03 Print this article Print

Some analysts believe the competition is healthy.

"Historically, it has usually taken two players in any business area to create a new product category," said John Strand, CEO of Strand Consult, a Copenhagen, Denmark, consultancy specializing in the mobile industry. "One player alone will often not make it. But by entering the market for mobile terminals, Microsoft is helping establish the category of mobile terminals that has enormous potential."

Strand said Microsoft fills a niche with its Pocket PC Phone Edition, which is designed for devices slightly larger than traditional phones and has had better luck in the United States than the Smartphone platform has.

"The problem with the ones that look like phones is that the screens are so tiny," said Andrew Langer, manager of regulatory policy at the National Federation of Independent Businesses, in Washington. Langer uses the Siemens SX56, a Pocket PC Phone Edition device that runs on the AT&T Wireless General Packet Radio Service network.

"I wanted something that had a phone and a PDA and wireless Internet, which looked like a PDA and ran on the Pocket PC platform," Langer said. "I do all my scheduling on it, and I take notes on meetings. My only complaint is that the network isnt everywhere."

But some developers said its difficult to support myriad operating systems in what is still a niche market. In addition to the Symbian OS and Microsoft platforms, there are cell phone versions of Linux, which has support from companies including handset maker Motorola. "The cellular market is lacking harmonization," said Telmaps Nissim. "I think developers have a hard time these days because they have to start choosing. The choice becomes harder."

Multiple operating systems can complicate the creation of applications and supporting software, according to some third-party developers.

"For the benefit of the smart-phone environment, it is better if we have fewer choices in operating systems," said Cristiano Pierry, chief product officer of Action Engine Corp., also in Redmond. Like many third-party software developers, Action Engine is adapting its products to all operating system environments so that enterprises and service providers do not have to make a choice.

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