When mobile phones and PDAs collide

The convergence of mobile phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) looks as if it will finally happen in the next 18 months,...

The convergence of mobile phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) looks as if it will finally happen in the next 18 months, writes Daniel Thomas.

As partnerships form between hardware, software and wireless suppliers, the crossover will result in PDAs with mobile phone features and mobile phones with PDA features.

Palm has announced that RealVision, a hardware developer specialising in Palm enhancements, is to market a snap-on sled, which includes an earphone jack, for the Palm V and Vx series. The dual-band GSM sled is expected to cost about £200 when it is shipped next year.

Handspring, one of Palm's major licensees, has unveiled plans for a GSM module that can be used with its Visor range of PDAs. The Visor Phone module includes a 680mAh rechargable lithium ion battery.

Microsoft hosted a Mobile Phone Design Review in London to discuss its voice and data convergence strategy, with about 150 wireless companies. The product strategy will promote three different wireless solutions: smart phones, feature phones and Pocket PC devices, according to Kevin Dallas, director of Microsoft Mobile Services.

Dallas said that, in the first half of next year, a number of companies, including Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia will ship at least one of these three converged devices using the Microsoft mobile phone operating system and browser.

Some mobile phone companies have been quicker to market converged phone and PDA combinations: Ericsson and Nokia already sell phones with PDA capabilities. And last week, Computer Weekly reported that Palm and Motorola are teaming up to develop a smart phone based on Motorola's wireless technologies and the PalmOS operating system.

The co-operation will initially produce a tri-band (usable worldwide) GSM wireless smart phone, which is not expected until early in 2002. The phone will send data via general packet radio service and will allow faster Internet access than is currently possible.

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