The convergence of handheld devices with cellphones continued apace this week as Microsoft announced the launch of its PocketPC 2002 operating system, and across town Telecom was offering customers the new Kyocera 6035 which combines the new CDMA high-speed data network with a Palm operating system handheld.
Microsoft's latest version of the PocketPC includes a number of changes designed to make devices that run the system better at remotely connecting to corporate networks.
"We're really targeting the enterprise with this release," says Microsoft's Windows' marketing manager Jay Templeton.
There are 22 manufacturers licensing the OS including Compaq and Hewlett-Packard. Microsoft expects the devices to be used as a way of staying in touch with the corporate network from the field.
Compaq's iPaq makes use of a sleeve design that allows users to add GSM cellphone capability along with wireless PC cards or upcoming CDMA and GPRS cards to stay connected wherever they are. Consequently, Microsoft is improving its security with regard to things like stronger password protection and support for Virtual Private Network (VPN) access.
While Microsoft did demonstrate an all-in-one cellphone and handheld device, which is not yet available, Telecom will begin selling the Kyocera 6035 next week for $999 plus GST on a 24-month plan as part of its roll-out of CDMA.
"We wanted to build a phone first and a handheld device second," says Kyocera Wireless vice president for marketing, Stanley Sheufler, who was in New Zealand for the launch.
Kyocera Wireless was formed 18 months ago when Kyocera bought the mobile phone arm of Qualcomm - the US-based company that originally created the CDMA standard.
"We went to Palm because they have such a huge piece of the market. Obviously we are assessing that and we've been to presentations from Microsoft and some of the other players as well."
Telecom will be pitching the phone at the corporate users and has had strong interest from government departments as well.
"Service engineers, sales people out on the road, that sort of thing," says Telecom spokesperson Linda Sanders.
Users who wish to take advantage of the higher speeds Telecom will introduce early next year with the upgrade to CDMA 1x won't be able to use the same phone however.
"It's a different chipset and so you'll have to upgrade then," says Sheufler.