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Hotmail subscribes Motorola for new device

Microsoft is sending Hotmail subscribers a message: E-mail on the go isn't just for people in pinstripes anymore.

Microsoft is sending Hotmail subscribers a message: E-mail on the go isn't just for people in pinstripes anymore.

Microsoft announced Tuesday that consumers will be able to send and receive e-mail messages and online content on Motorola's Talkabout T900 two-way pagers. The devices will run on the Arch Wireless network.

There are five monthly service plans. For $14.95 a month, customers get 25,000 characters per month to use in sending and receiving e-mail messages. For $19.95 a month, the limit is 40,000 characters, while $19.99 a month buys customers 30,000 characters a month with free weekends and unlimited weeknights. Customers get 50,000 characters a month for $24.95 and 100,000 characters for $29.95. Those who subscribe to plans over $19.95 per month by Dec. 31 get a $100 rebate on the pager, bringing the price to $59.99.

The two-way paging market is becoming flush with competition as companies try to match the success Research In Motion has had in large companies with its BlackBerry devices. Danger Research and Good Technology are due to release similar products and services, but price has often been the sticking point.

"Pricing was a key issue for us because if a solution is too expensive, then it's not a useful product for the consumer," MSN product manager Lisa Gurry said.

MSN, Motorola and Arch Wireless are looking to combine their efforts to tap their respective large customer bases. Hotmail has more than 118 million subscribers to its free e-mail service worldwide, more than 60 million of them in the United States. Arch Wireless has more than 9 million customers nationwide. Motorola started shipping its Talkabout device in June of 2000 and has over 1 million in service, according to the company.

Gurry added that the deal is good for MSN from all sides.

"We can provide our current customers with access to their custom information and maybe in the process pick up some more Hotmail subscribers," Gurry said.

A similar offering from AOL, called the Mobile Communicator, costs $99.95 for the device and $29.95 per month in addition to a monthly AOL membership fee. The device is essentially a RIM BlackBerry handheld that is re-branded AOL.