The biggest losers in the race to bring converged mobile phones and personal digital assistants to market are Palm and Handspring, according to market research firm Strand Consult.
The firm‘s latest research shows that Palm (PALM) and Handspring (HAND) do not have the financial heft to compete with Nokia (NOK), Sony Ericsson, Siemens (SI), Motorola (MOT) and, now, Microsoft (MSFT).
Even though Microsoft is a newcomer to the smart-phone market, it recently struck deals with several major U.S. carriers that agreed to sell its smart phone. But unlike Handspring and Palm, Microsoft has the finances to compete with dominant smart-phone manufacturers like Nokia, the researchers said.
Handspring would not comment on the study, but it recently released a statement to the media that its combination PDA, cell-phone and e-mail pager “Treo” communicator was now available in Malaysia.
Rogers Wireless, Canada’s second-largest wireless service provider in terms of subscribers, said it would be that country’s exclusive Treo seller. But the Canadian carrier doesn’t plan to subsidize any of the costs for the device, which costs $475 plus a two-year service plan.
Palm said it wasn’t manufacturing smart phones, although it’s trying to license its operating system to smart-phone manufacturers.
It’s Java vs. BREW: Not only is there a battle between hardware manufacturers in the smart-phone space, but there’s one brewing between software companies, too.
To let consumers play games or download business applications onto their cell phones, handset makers are tapping either Sun Microsystems for its Java software, or Qualcomm for its Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless (BREW) platform.
Side-by-side, applications powered by BREW look no different than those running on Java. But to the companies, naturally, there are big differences.
Paul Pangaro, a director at Sun Microsystems who is in San Francisco for the ongoing JavaOne conference, noted that Qualcomm’s software is proprietary. Because Sun is making its software available to anyone –- the company this week showed off a new website for wireless applications developers – Pangaro told Wired News his company will have more content than Qualcomm for mobile phones.
Qualcomm had some news of its own. Jamdat Mobile, a maker of games for mobile phones, said this week it would provide 13 of its games to Verizon Wireless for BREW-enabled handsets. Verizon Wireless subscribers using a BREW-enabled wireless phone will be able to select, purchase and download the games.
No shield from lawsuits: Comstar Communications, a company sued by the Federal Trade Commission for falsely advertising a technology that shielded consumers from the radiation of cell phones, may be hit by another lawsuit. This time, it’s from its distributor, Interact Communications.
Interact said it may take legal action against Comstar because it hasn’t stopped using the company’s trademark on its products. Interact, whose president Shelly Kalnitsky recently said business was down by 50 percent because of the attention drawn to Comstar by the FTC’s lawsuit, said it sent Comstar Communications a notice terminating its contract.
Interact said the package, which included its terminating letter, was returned unopened from Federal Express after Comstar had earlier accepted the delivery.
Last month, the FTC filed lawsuits against Stock Value 1, of Boca Raton, Florida, and Comstar Communications, of Sacramento, California, for promoting products that blocked up to 99 percent of the electromagnetic waves emitted from the earpiece of mobile phones. The products consisted of metallic fiber patches the user would place on the earpiece of the phone.
DWY riskier than DWI: Yakking on a cell phone while driving (DWY) is more dangerous than driving while intoxicated (DWI), according to British scientists.
The Transport Research Laboratory in Britain said that drivers talking on their mobile phones had slower reaction times and stopping times on the road than those drivers under the influence of alcohol. Using a hands-free kit was almost as dangerous because the conversation, itself, is distracting, the scientists said.
The study included 20 volunteers on a driving simulator. The volunteers’ reaction times were, on average, 30 percent slower talking on a mobile phone than if they had drunk a little bit more than the legal limit of alcohol. Their reaction times were 50 percent slower when talking on a mobile than if they’d been driving without one.
Riot-E goes bankrupt: Riot Entertainment, a distributor of mobile entertainment in Finland that had contracts to make games for The Lord of the Rings, Bridget Jones and Marvel comics, filed for bankruptcy protection.
Riot-E says the bankruptcy isn’t due to a lack of customers, but a lack of financing from investors.
Motorola, Nortel to marry? Motorola is deep in talks with Nortel Networks to combine their wireless network equipment businesses, according to a recent report by BusinessWeek.
Due to the softened economy and fierce competition from Ericsson and Nokia, the two companies are considering combining their infrastructure businesses, the magazine said. Nortel and Motorola declined to comment.
Motorola lost $1.4 billion in the business last year. Nortel slashed 30,000 jobs last year after suffering a second-quarter loss of $19.2 billion.
Apple grows Bluetooth: Apple Computers said its products would support Bluetooth, a radio that lets devices within 30 feet of each other interact wirelessly.
Apple’s first Bluetooth product is the D-Link USB Bluetooth adapter, which is already available in Mac stores for $50, and could be downloaded in April.
NTT DoCoMo hikes fees: NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s No. 1 mobile-phone operator, hiked its fees to connect with subscribers of competing mobile-phone operators to “ensure adequate and smooth interconnection,” the company said in a released statement.
Meanwhile, KDDI, Japan’s No. 2 mobile-phone operator, plans to offer next-generation wireless (3G) services next month.
Merger talk: Sonera, Finland’s largest wireless carrier, said it was in merger talks with Telia, which has the most subscribers across Scandinavia.
Dialing around: Consumers around the world will make $25 million in payments for goods on their mobile phones -– about 15 percent of all e-commerce transactions -– according to a report by market research firm Frost & Sullivan…. In response to skepticism that Europeans will use Blackberry RIM pagers, British mobile-phone operator, mmO2, said it has already signed about 250 customers for its Blackberry wireless services…. Nextel Communications said it would allow its customers to send and receive AOL instant messages on their cell phones.