Sony to release a PDA/phone combo unit in the US

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By David M. Ewalt Mobile phone maker Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications is set to make the American debut of a handful of new high-tech mobile phones Wednesday in New York. Those and other new devices–complete with features such as built-in cameras, always-on Internet, and global positioning systems–may herald a new wave of wireless adoption by businesses. Sony Ericsson’s new products, which made their world debut Tuesday in London, include the p800, a combination PDA and cellular phone with a built-in digital camera. It operates with always-on Internet connectivity through Global Systems for Mobile Communications/GPRS networks, and runs the Symbian operating system, allowing it to support a number of common office applications, including custom applications. Ted Brown, head of product marketing for Sony Ericsson, says business customers are becoming an increasingly important market for wireless hardware and service vendors, and there’s data to bear that out. In a study released Tuesday, Cahner’s In-Stat wireless research director Becky Dierks wrote that the number of business users accessing data wirelessly is expected to boom, growing from 6.6 million at the end of 2001 to more than 39 million in 2006. Business segments are the largest group of Wireless Data service users, she says, and will remain so throughout that period. Dierks says that business spending on wireless technology is climbing largely because new wireless devices provide a platform for applications such as customer-relationship management and sales-force automation, and allow access to customer databases, rather than just E-mail and messaging. “What we’re seeing now is that vendors are coming out with solutions that can help companies provide access to all their applications,” she says. In the coming year, she expects “a huge wave” from the convergence of cell phones and PDAs. “I think it’s a goal that companies have: one device for voice and data purposes,” she says. “We just haven’t seen the right form factor out there.”



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