Sprint, Verizon Offer PocketPC Phones

Verizon Wireless and Sprint launched Microsoft PocketPC Phone Edition offerings this week that open the data-intensive phone devices to a much broader market in the United States.

Through agreements with AT&T Wireless and T-Mobile, Microsoft has previously offered PocketPC-based phones, which are PDAs with phone capabilities. But those versions are on the GSM network, which is the more common network type globally. In the United States, however, most mobile providers use the CDMA network, which has more than 100 million U.S. subscribers compared with GSM's 12 million U.S. subscribers, according to Microsoft.

The new Verizon Wireless and Sprint offerings, both running on the CDMA network, will include the Hitachi G1000 unit and the Samsung 1700 unit.

The PocketPC Phone Edition devices have logical applications for U.S.-based enterprises, as they can be used to pass back-end data to handheld versions of Excel, Word and other common Microsoft applications. Bringing out devices on the CDMA network and through two of the largest wireless service providers in the country could help the spread of the technology.

Also this week, RIM announced its intention to offer a software client for the PocketPC Phone Edition that will give users access to the popular Blackberry e-mail services.

The PocketPC Phone Edition is different from Microsoft's Smartphone platform, which is also built on the Windows CE operating system. Smartphone will be used in devices with a mobile phone handset form factor with support for fewer applications and a much simpler interface. Smartphone-based devices are available in Europe, will ship shortly in Asia and are planned for U.S. distribution later this year.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.