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Commentary: The skinny on smart phones

The race is on to create a Weight Watchers version of the so-called smart phone, and it comes as no surprise that Microsoft intends to be thin at the finish.

By Abha Garg, Gartner Analyst

The race is on to create a Weight Watchers version of the so-called smart phone, and it comes as no surprise that Microsoft intends to be thin at the finish.

See news story:
TI plans integrated chip for streamlined phone, PDA combo
The software giant's new alliance with Texas Instruments--as well as a similar venture announced Monday involving Samsung Telecommunications America and VoiceStream Wireless--underscores Microsoft's enthusiasm for smart phones, which can offer wireless Net access.

The Samsung-VoiceStream deal also seeks to develop General Packet Radio Switching (GPRS) mobile phones that incorporate Microsoft's Mobile Explorer and "Stinger" operating system. As Microsoft apparently is doing with Texas Instruments, the software giant is working with Samsung and VoiceStream to build Internet-capable handsets.

The GPRS handset offers increased data access speeds and will likely give people the advantage of always-on access. Possible applications and benefits to wireless users include faster Web browsing and email transmission, in addition to video streaming capabilities.

Competition will likely be fierce for developing smart phones that combine data services with voice functionality. Symbian, for example, announced Monday it is launching its next-generation platform that integrates telephony capability with such data services as email and Web browsing. Symbian licensees include the leading handset vendors, Nokia, Motorola and Ericsson.

A key factor in consumer acceptance of such smart phones will likely rest on their price tag. Gartner believes that lighter-weight designs will drive the market and will likely appeal to style-conscious consumers. Therefore, the thinner wireless handsets will turn more consumer heads than will bulkier handheld computers.

(For related commentary on advanced wireless communications, see TechRepublic.com--free registration required.)

Entire contents, Copyright © 2000 Gartner Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.