Users face bountiful choices in the coming year as wireless hardware vendors ready new devices with an array of feature combinations and platform support.
Customers this year will see new offerings from Kyocera International Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Panasonic Digital Communications and Security Co., BenQ Corp., Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and Research In Motion Ltd.
The lineups at this weeks CTIA Wireless show in New Orleans and the CeBIT show in Hannover, Germany, however, are being met by enterprise users with a mixture of interest and dread. For some IT managers, many of the feature-rich devices are overwhelming.
“The main users of these products are always on the go. They want something user-friendly, which isnt the No. 1 selling point,” said Nicole Ethridge, an IS assistant at Boston Properties Inc., in Boston, which is implementing a mobile property management program. “Im dreading supporting the cell phone/PDA combos. Well have to establish an aggressive training program.”
While the choice of devices may be fun from the users perspective, many mobile professionals say they dont have time to take advantage of full-featured models that combine phones, PDAs and games.
“I went back to using the RIM [BlackBerry device] exclusively,” said Christopher Bell, chief technology officer of People2People Group, in Boston, who has experimented with several PDA and phone combinations in the past few years. “I just dont have the time to program the Pocket PC.”
At CTIA Wireless, Kyocera will unveil eight new devices, designed to grab more attention than the San Diego companys current utilitarian phones.
The lineup features stylized mainstream Personal Communications Service phones with names such as Blade and Phantom, plus a high-end phone called Slider, which features a keyboard that users can slide shut when not in use. The Slider runs on CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) networks at 800MHz and 1900MHz as well as high-speed CDMA 1X networks. It features a 65,000-color display, an enhanced messaging service and support for Qualcomm Inc.s Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless. It will be available this fall.
Kyocera also plans to launch its long-awaited 7135 Palm OS-based smart phone for CDMA networks in conjunction with Verizon Wireless Inc. in the next six weeks, officials said.
Samsung, meanwhile, at CeBIT is showing its own Palm OS-based smart phone for GSM/GPRS (Global System for Mobile Communications/General Packet Radio Service) networks. Running Version 5.2 of Palm OS, Samsungs Mobile Information Terminals SGH-i500 includes a multimedia messaging client, a Wireless Application Protocol 2.0 browser and a 330,000-pixel digital camera.
Cameras are becoming de rigueur: Panasonic at CTIA will join AT&T Wireless Services Inc. to launch the GU87 Mobile Internet Pro Phone, a clamshell GSM/GPRS phone that includes Multimedia Messaging Service and a 2X zoom camera.
In a show of support for Symbian Ltd.s Symbian OS, Samsung, of Seoul, South Korea, will offer the SGH D 700, which runs the Series 60 platform on top of Symbian. It includes a rotating digital camera and is due in the third quarter.
BenQ, which announced a licensing deal with Symbian in January, plans to ship a phone in the third quarter that runs Symbian OS Version 7, according to officials at the Taiwan company. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi, of Tokyo, is showing a Symbian OS 7 phone that has integrated wireless LAN and voice-over-IP support as well as a built-in camcorder; the company has yet to announce a due date.
RIM, for its part, is keeping its devices stylistically simple but is adding support for new phone networks. At CeBIT, the Waterloo, Ontario, company is demonstrating two new BlackBerry models that support GPRS designed primarily for customers in Europe.
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