SAN FRANCISCO (05/23/2000) - Microsoft Corp.'s wireless plans for Pocket PC extend beyond adding modems to actually putting Pocket PC in a mobile phone.
At the WirelessAgenda conference here this week, Microsoft demonstrated wireless connectivity for the Pocket PC and previewed a prototype convergence phone with an integrated Pocket PC personal digital assistant built in. Other than showing a sneak peak of the software on the Stinger Smartphone, Microsoft would not comment on the device's manufacturers, pricing, or availability.
"The Stinger Smartphone is a scaled down Pocket PC with a phone," says Paul Gross, senior vice president of Microsoft's collaboration and mobility group.
Pocket PC features such as your address book integrate with the voice capabilities of the phone, says Brian Shafer, product manager for mobile devices at Microsoft. "You can search for someone from your contacts list and hit call," he says.
Microsoft is not the first to add a PDA to a phone. The PDQ phone from Kyocera Corp. runs the Palm operating system and combines a PDA and cell phone. But the clunkiness of the device and its high price tag has resulted in limited interest.
Ericsson Inc. has a Symbian-based PDA phone in the works, while Sprint PCS has announced it will offer the $399 LGInfoComm smart phone this summer. Pocket PC is a heavier platform than Palm or Symbian, so it may not be able to squeeze into anything less than clunky.
Wireless Alternatives for Pocket PC
In addition to the all-in-one Stinger device, Microsoft demonstrated two ways you can use a mobile phone to access the wireless data on your Pocket PC.
Socket Communications has a digital phone card that plugs into the CompactFlash slot on a Pocket PC and connects to a data phone by cable.
Rather than build a wireless modem into Pocket PCs, with the mobile phone model, customers maintain their accounts with their wireless carrier, Shafer says.
Also, Bluetooth will enable wireless connectivity between a Pocket PC and a phone, he adds.
Socket is developing a Bluetooth card for the Hewlett-Packard Co. Jornada Pocket PC that would connect the device to a phone without using a cable. In today's demonstration, the HP Jornada with Bluetooth successfully recognized and communicated with another Bluetooth device, an Ericsson triband GSM phone.
"Microsoft is very excited about Bluetooth," Shafer says.
Microsoft also demonstrated a wireless CDPD add-on from Sierra Wireless for the Compaq Computer Corp.'s Ipaq Pocket PC. Expected to ship in June, the Ipaq Pocket PC adds other wireless possibilities with its "expansion jacket" add-ons, including 802.11.
"Pocket PC is 802.11-ready," Shafer says. "Symbol Technologies Inc. has already integrated 802.11 in its vertical Pocket PC devices."
Microsoft is also drawing on acquired technology from STNC, which makes a microbrowser that supports wireless application protocol and HTML content.