Microsoft has filed documents with the FCC that some are taking as additional evidence that this company will release a combination Zune and mobile phone, a device that will compete directly with Apple’s upcoming iPhone.
According to MarketWatch, Microsoft has advised the U.S. Federal Communications Commission that it will soon submit for approval the prototype of a model that offers OFDM. This is a technology for sending large amounts of data over a wireless signal by using different frequencies.
Although OFDM is used by several wireless standards, including versions of Wi-Fi and WiMAX, it isn’t included in any cellular-wireless standard.
This would seem to indicate that the upcoming device referred to in the FCC filing would not be a cell phone. Instead, it would allow users to make VoIP calls. Therefore, users would need to be near some kind of hotspot in order to use their phone.
Although limiting for the user, it would allow Microsoft to release a voice communications device without having to partner with a wireless carrier. Unconfirmed reports indicate that, in order get the iPhone released, Apple agreed that this smartphone would be exclusively available in the U.S. though Cingular Wireless for five years. Microsoft, on the other hand, would be able to sell its Zune phone directly to consumers.
Bring on the Caveats
It must be made clear that Microsoft’s filing with the FCC makes no reference to the Zune. It’s entirely possible that this upcoming unit will not be related to Microsoft’s portable multimedia device at all.
And while OFDM can be used for transmitting voice calls, it can just as easily be used for other kinds of wireless data transfers.
But the idea of a Zune/phone isn’t complete speculation. Last fall, Chris Stephenson, general manager of global marketing for Zune, said, "A Zune phone is definitely part of the future of this brand."
Thanks to berylrb for the tip.