Nokia: All Smartphones To Converge Cellular And Wi-Fi - InformationWeek

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3/13/2005
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Nokia: All Smartphones To Converge Cellular And Wi-Fi

All smartphones produced by Nokia for the enterprise market will, within two years, support dual mode cellular and Wi-Fi capability, a senior executive at the company said, during a session looking into next generation phones at the CTIA Wireless expo, which kicks off officially Monday (March 14).

NEW ORLEANS, LA. — All smartphones produced by Nokia for the enterprise market will, within two years, support dual mode cellular and Wi-Fi capability, a senior executive at the company said, during a session looking into next generation phones at the CTIA Wireless expo, which kicks off officially Monday (March 14).

Nigel Rundstrom, vice president of multimedia and channel management at the Finnish handset maker said "how and for what people will use Wi-Fi enabled pones is debatable, but Voice over IP is an obvious application", said Rundstrom.

The commitment could be significant as Nokia's stance to offer support in its handsets for Edge some years ago, when that technology had yet to get really established, is believed to have given the Edge business a real boost.

Phones for the consumer segment will lag dual radio mode capability slightly, asserted Rundstrom, "but for our flagship products for that space, again, we will build in such capability within two years".

Another panelist at the session looking into the future of smartphones, Jason Cohenour , COO at Sierra Wireless, concurred that dual radio mode functionality "is likely to become a compelling proposition within the enterprise space within such a timescale, and such convergence is seen as a great opportunity for the consumer space as well."

However, Cohenur queried whether mobile network operators are committed to the concept. "It does not seem to be a 'must have 'for them in the short term".

Albert Chu, executive vice president of business development at operating system developer PalmSource, echoed these concerns. "We will support these converged technologies on our platforms, but I would not say it is a 'check-off' item yet for network operators, and I'd say this is not at the top end of the list of priorities for the operators," said Chu.

Jerry Panagrossi, VP of US operations at Symbian, noted the operating system specialist has just added IMS support to the latest version of its products, an indication of how important and urgent it feels the cellular-Wi-Fi Convergence could become. "Network operators see Wi-Fi as a lower cost/byte proposition, and are keen to offload data intensive applications to that."

Pannelists suggested power management is a bigger immediate challenge for the smartphone developers, and that such converged handsets could just make the problem even greater. For instance, Nokia's Rundstrom noted there have been sketchy, and only linear improvements is battery performance , but the problem and challenge for the smartphone developers and their suppliers of both components and systems is how to better manage and optimize battery life. "We are working very hard with key suppliers to improve the situation, but it is taking time."

The increasing complexity of handsets, and thus ease of use, is another significant barrier to the faster and the more widespread adoption of smatphones, suggested Dan Roth, president of VoiceSignal. "If we can't make it easier for users to make of the most of these advanced features and capabilities, no amount of subsidy, or promotion of advanced capabilities, will help create a real market for smartphones."

And at the top of the list of what keeps handset suppliers and their strategic suppliers awake at night, it became clear, was the potential threat of viruses and getting into handsets and thus infiltrating networks via certain applications, such as e-mail.

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