Building New Links

Sprint to roll out remote access app, phone/PDA devices.

Bolstering the options for corporate customers that prefer Code Division Multiple Access networks, Sprint PCS Group this summer is launching software that connects devices to back-end applications—along with selling several new smart phones.

The Overland Park, Kan., carrier will introduce a version of its Business Connection Enterprise Edition remote access software that sits behind the customers firewall rather than being hosted by the carrier, as is the case with the current version. Sprint also plans to introduce new capabilities for Business Connection, including the ability to view e-mail attachments on a cell phone and to forward them to a fax machine so they can be printed, officials said. In addition, the company plans to introduce a Business Connection Client for devices that run Microsoft Corp.s Pocket PC operating system.

On the device side, Sprint plans to launch phone/PDA combos from Handspring Inc., Hitachi Ltd. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.

Handspring this fall will introduce a phone based on the Palm OS, shortly before finalizing the companys merger with handheld computer maker Palm Inc.

Sprint is the first carrier to announce plans to sell Handsprings Treo 600, which looks more like a modern cell phone than previous Treos.

The device is slightly smaller than its predecessors, and it does not have a flip cover. It features five-way navigation and an alphabet keypad with rounded buttons that accommodate big thumbs. Ten of the letter buttons work as numbers, so users can dial the phone using the keypad or a virtual keypad on the color touch-screen.

The phone includes an integrated camera and several applications that take advantage of it; for example, users can set up their contact information and caller ID with pictures of callers. It runs Palm OS Version 5.0 on an ARM processor from Texas Instruments Inc., and it includes 32MB of memory. Depending on what carriers decide to offer, the Treo 600 will have several e-mail options, including a behind-the-firewall solution from Good Technology Inc. Sprint has no plans to sell the Good server, which will compete with its Business Connection server but will sell phones to accounts that use Good, officials said.

The phone also includes a threaded SMS (Short Message Service) client that looks like an instant messaging chat client, owing to the fact that the American technology audience has been slow to adopt SMS but fast to adopt IM. With the client, the user sees what the user wrote in addition to the response.

"SMS too often is used like e-mail," said Brian Jaquet, a spokesman for Handspring, in Mountain View, Calif. "When people finally respond to you, you dont know what the question was in the first place."

The Treo 600 is expected to cost $400 to $500.

Hitachis PCS Phone SH-G1000, due from Sprint in July, runs Microsofts Phone Edition Pocket PC 2002 operating system and is the first Pocket PC to feature the PDA trifecta of an integrated keyboard, a camera and a wireless phone. It includes pocket-size standard Windows applications such as Word and Excel, 32MB of memory and a 400MHz Xscale processor from Intel Corp. It also includes a Secure Digital expansion slot. It will be available in July for $649, Sprint officials said.

Sprint had also planned to launch Samsungs i700 this summer; it runs Pocket PC as well. But because Microsoft just announced Version 2003 of Pocket PC, Sprint did not want to launch two phones running Pocket PC 2002 in June. The company plans to deliver the i700 when it finishes testing Pocket PC 2003 later this year. Sprint will not offer an upgrade for the Hitachi SH-G1000.

"Anyone who knows anything about Pocket PC knows that upgrading is a difficult process," said Jason Guesman, a Sprint PCS spokesman.

In the meantime, Sprint in July will release the Samsung SPH-i500, a Palm OS clamshell device that has no expansion slot but makes up for that by weighing only 5 ounces. It will cost $549 with a rebate, officials said.