China's TCL Mobile to make Microsoft-based phones

Targeting the booming Chinese mobile phone market, Microsoft said Thursday that China's TCL Mobile Communication Co. Ltd. plans to make smart phones and phone-PDAs (personal digital assistants) running Microsoft software.

The Redmond, Washington, software maker will work with the HuiZhou, China, mobile phone maker on research, development and marketing of devices running Microsoft's Windows Powered Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition and Smartphone 2002 software, Microsoft said in a statement.

TCL Mobile's devices based on Microsoft software will initially be sold in China only, Microsoft said. Products for other markets could follow later. TCL Mobile's goal is to sell its products worldwide, according to the company's Web site. A Microsoft spokesman could not say when TCL plans to release its first Microsoft-based device.

Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition software is used for PDA type devices with phone functionality, while devices with Smartphone 2002 software are phones with limited PDA features. Microsoft last month released its Simplified Chinese Pocket PC software.

China's handheld device market is booming. Sales of smart handheld devices in the country accounted for 68.5 percent of all 2.91 million unit shipments in the Asia/Pacific region (excluding Japan) in 2001, according to market research firm IDC, which expects growth for the region to continue with a compounded annual growth rate of 36.5 percent until 2006.

TCL Mobile, founded in 1999 and supported by the Chinese government, is the first Chinese manufacturer to use Microsoft's software for its PDA and phone hybrids. South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., England's Sendo PLC., and Japan's Mitsubishi Electric Corp. have also said they will use Microsoft's Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition or Smartphone 2002.

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