CTIA - Four US operators to sell Microsoft-based phones

Four U.S. mobile-phone operators will start selling smart phones and phone-PDAs (personal digital assistants) running Microsoft software later this year.

Verizon Wireless Inc., Sprint Corp. and VoiceStream Wireless Corp. will market combination PDA and phone devices running Microsoft's Pocket PC software, according to statements issued by Microsoft and each of the operators at the CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association) event in Orlando.

Cingular Wireless LLC will sell Sendo PLC's Z100, a phone with some PDA functions based on Microsoft's Windows Powered Smartphone 2002 software, Sendo said Monday. Sendo, of Birmingham, England, last week said the Z100 would be hitting the streets this year.

Verizon, of Bedminster, New Jersey, and Sprint, of Westwood, Kansas, will both sell the Thera from Audiovox Communications Corp. Verizon plans to start selling the Thera in the second quarter, followed by Sprint sometime mid-2002, the operators said.

The Thera is a Microsoft Pocket PC 2002 PDA with added phone functionality. It is powered by an Intel Corp. StrongArm 206MHz processor, weighs 7 ounces (198 grams), measures 3 inches by 5 inches (76 millimeters by 127 millimeters) and comes with 32MB of RAM and 32MB of flash memory. Expansion is possible using the SD (Secure Digital) card slot, according to Audiovox.

VoiceStream, of Bellevue, Washington, has not specified a manufacturer, but promises a product "later this year."

Pricing information was not announced for any of the products.

The PDA-mobile phone hybrids, such as the Thera, operate on packet-switched mobile phone networks and allow a user to access e-mail and connect to the Internet and corporate networks. The software on these devices includes stripped down versions of Microsoft's Office applications.

Smart phones, such as the Sendo Z100, are generally smaller in size, offer limited access to e-mail and the Web and don't offer as many software options.

The U.S. announcements follow similar announcements in Europe. Last week mm02 PLC of Uxbridge, England, said its xda, a combined PDA and phone running Microsoft Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition, will go on sale in May for between £400 (US$566) and £500 when purchased with an airtime agreement. The xda works with GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) networks.

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