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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 21, 2001

PC makers welcome wireless inroads

 •  Microsoft, Motorola launch messenger

Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — The computer guys took over at the wireless show yesterday.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer holds a prototype Smartphone using Microsoft's Stinger software during his speech at the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association convention yesterday in Las Vegas. He talked about the convergence of the Internet and wireless phones.

Associated Press

Steve Ballmer of Microsoft, Michael Dell of Dell Computer, Craig Barrett of Intel and Jerry Yang of Yahoo! stressed in keynote addresses at CTIA Wireless 2001 how their companies will extend their leadership with the Internet to the world of cell phones and mobile devices.

"We're all about leading the transition to wireless. But when you're talking about wireless devices, you're talking about data devices; and when you're talking about data devices, you're talking about computers," said Dell, chairman and chief executive of the world's No. 1 direct seller of PCs.

Wireless handheld computers, also known as personal digital assistants or PDAs, "are an interesting intersection between telephone and computer.... But I don't see PDAs replacing computers any time soon," said Dell. "We don't have a problem with PDAs. We think of them as complementary to personal computers. All these users also have a PC."

Likewise, Barrett, chief executive of Intel, dismissed the notion that PDAs clash with computers as a way to access the Internet.

"You have 400 million Internet users who like what they have, so you're not going to throw it all out and redo it all" for wireless devices, he said.

Ballmer took the opportunity to reiterate Microsoft's multitiered assault on the wireless market, including efforts to develop new software platforms for a "smart phone" with PDA features and a "Tablet PC." Both aren't due to hit the U.S. market until next year.

"We need to be pioneers in this," said Ballmer, who also announced plans for Microsoft's MSN online network to sell an MSN-branded version of Motorola's T900 Talkabout, a two-way pager.

The Talkabout, popular with teenagers and young adults, features a complete miniature keyboard for typing short e-mails and instant messages. No pricing was announced for the device or the wireless service, which will be launched later this year. A rival service from America Online charges $329 for an AOL-branded version of the BlackBerry pager and $19.95 a month for unlimited use.

Ballmer also announced that a fourth cell phone maker has signed on to make a smart phone based on Microsoft's Stinger software. The company, High Tech Computer Corp., also makes the iPaq, Compaq Computer's PDA based on Microsoft's PocketPC operating system.

In other news at the show, Cingular Wireless announced plans to become the first U.S. carrier to deploy a speedier Internet connection based on next-generation wireless technologies.

Cingular Wireless Internet Express will be launched in California, Nevada and Washington in the second quarter, and in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia later in the year.

Most of Cingular's rivals are rushing to deploy similar services, which represent the first step toward "3G" or third-generation technologies that would allow cell phones and other mobile devices to download Web pages, audio and video. Sprint PCS plans to launch its first next-generation service nationally later this year.

Yang, the co-founder of Yahoo!, announced a new partnership with Verizon Wireless that will give Verizon cell phone users easier access to Yahoo instant messaging and other customized services.