In the week that the CEO of IBM declaimed that PC was dead, Sagem and Microsoft launched the WA 3050, the industry’s first wireless pocket PC and phone.
The Sagem WA 3050 is a full dual-band GSM phone with GPRS technology by Sagem, based on Microsoft’s Windows-powered Pocket PC platform. This will enable customers to have real-time wireless access to information including e-mail, the web, time-sensitive corporate applications as well as voice capabilities and high-end mobile phone features.
The Sagem Wireless Assistant is thin, light and elegant, weighing in at 198 grams, and will give users:
• the ability to place and receive mobile phone calls, including hands-free and speakerphone capabilities, as well as ring tones customized from the web.
• wireless browsing over GPRS using Pocket Internet Explorer, and access to WAP information using an integrated browser; access to applications including e-mail, calendar, contacts using a pocket version of Microsoft Outlook, plus pocket versions of Word and Excel with real-time wireless connectivity.
• MP3 audio files with Windows Media Player or reading e-books with Microsoft Reader – and thousands of add-on peripherals from other companies.
• caller alert functions so that no calls are missed while the Pocket PC is being used.
“The new wireless Pocket PC places Sagem and Microsoft at the forefront of the mobile device market by delivering to customers a solution that combines the rich PDA platform, Pocket PC, with innovative wireless technology, truly delivering to the market Microsoft’s vision of information access anytime, anywhere and on any device,” said Hjalmar Winbladh, general manager, Europe mobility solutions center, Microsoft.
“Wireless Assistant offers a device with superior ergonomics and all of the features of a high-end mobile phone including hands-free speaker phone, vibrating alert, WAP browsing and SMS services,” added Winbladh.
User-friendly and powerful, the WA 3050 is accessible to mobile workers who need to connect to their most important information while away from the office. This new device marks a milestone on the path to UMTS.
Sagem spokesman, Adam Anger, thinks that the WA3050 will be very popular, especially with mobile professionals. “Many of us face the same challenge: we must use a handheld device to access bandwidth-intensive data on corporate intranet sites,” he said. “On the Sagem Pocket PC WA3050, delivering graphics and other high bandwidth data will be a greatly improved experience.
“At the same time, since it has phone capabilities, a user can hang up from that data connection and then have a conference call in a room that isn’t equipped with a conference phone. And, of course, the device makes it simple to access e-mail, calendar functions and other personal information systems,” said Anger.
The launch came on the heels of a statement by Louis Gerstner, chairman of IBM, that the PC was dead. “It’s not where people think, it’s not where they act, it’s not where the applications are built, and it’s not where the investment is going.”
Gerstner said that IBM’s revenue troubles in 2000 were caused by its transformation into an e-business within an IT industry undergoing upheaval by the death of the PC.
In the United States, the current method of wirelessly enabling pocket PCs is through add-on solutions like wireless modems or by connecting devices to data-capable cell phones. Sagem currently doesn’t have plans to ship their WA3050 in the States. Europe and Asia are far more advanced in the development and implementation of wireless Internet services than North America, primarily because many of these regions use the uniform, Europe-wide GSM protocol.
In Europe, there is one standard that all the wireless operators provide service on. In contrast, there are multiple standards in the United States. Manufacturers have to decide which standard they want to use. In these early days of wireless data, this makes it seem risky to bring a device like the WA3050 to the U.S.
So if you buy a Sagem WA3050 in Paris and take it back to the United States, you will have a fine pocket PC, but you won’t have wireless connectivity or phone capabilities.