Ericsson builds PDA into mobile phone

Ericsson Telephone yesterday unveiled forthcoming additions to its mobile phone lineup, and announced that later this year it will ship a digital handset with features normally found in separate, so-called PDAs (personal digital assistants).

The R380 will be the first GSM (global system for mobile communications) handset from Ericsson to be based on the EPOC operating system promoted by the UK-based Symbian joint venture, in which Ericsson is a founding member. The device will also allow users to access information from the Internet, said Sven-Christer Nilsson, president and chief executive officer of the Stockholm, Sweden-based company, here at the CeBIT exhibition.

"Mobility and accessibility will dramatically change the way we live and work," said Nilsson.

For accessing the Internet, the R380 features a built-in modem and support for WAP (wireless application protocol), he added.

The second model in the Stockholm-based company's newly launched R line, the R380 is scheduled to ship in this year's fourth quarter, said Nilsson. Volume availability is expected by early 2000, Ericsson said in a statement. Pricing information was not available.

Although the R380 features a range of data-based communication options, including e-mail, fax and SMS (short messaging system), Ericsson still billed the model primarily as a phone.

The unit's keypad is placed on a thin flip cover which opens to unveil a touch-screen large enough to allow users to comfortably read and write notes and e-mail, as well as check the built-in calendar and address book applications, Ericsson said. It also allows for the applications to be synchronised with their siblings on PCs.

Like all the other new GSM phone models that Ericsson showed off here today, the R380 features dual-band capability, meaning that it can access both 900MHz as well as 1.8GHz networks, the company said.

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