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Motorola crosses cell phone with handheld

The cell giant joins the combo device bandwagon with its Accompli 008, which will offer Internet access and use a new Motorola operating system.

Motorola has made the equivalent of a conference call, connecting cell phones with handheld computers to develop a new combination device, the Accompli 008.

A press release on the device appeared prematurely on the Motorola Web site Friday, revealing unannounced details for the U.S. version of the device. The cell phone giant wasn't ready to announce the U.S. version yet but, because of the Web glitch, decided to fill in the blanks. Leslie Dance, a Motorola representative, said Monday that the Accompli 008 is already available in Europe and Asia.

The Accompli 008 joins the growing trend of integrating features from cell phones and handheld computers into one device. The two other top cell phone makers, Nokia and Ericsson, have already done so.

With forecasts for cell phone shipments this year dropping and its own financial troubles, Motorola may be looking for the next big thing.

"A variety of vendors are trying to diversify into devices perceived to have potential," IDC analyst Alex Slawsby said.

In addition to the cell phone makers, handheld computer makers that license the Palm, Symbian and Pocket PC operating systems have also been announcing similar combination devices.

Right now, Dance said, Motorola is waiting for a U.S. carrier to pick up distribution of the phone so it can be released in the States. The Accompli 008, which incorporates Internet access capabilities, will retail in the United States for $400 to $500 depending on the carrier, Dance added.

Slawsby said that such a price tag keeps such devices out of the mainstream market. "The combo devices will play in niche high-end markets and will likely remain there until the prices come down," he said.

Motorola's relationship with handhelds isn't new. Its Dragonball processors are at the heart of handhelds that use the Palm OS. And last fall, Motorola announced that it will create a cell phone based on the Palm OS that incorporates some handheld features.

The Accompli 008, however, uses an OS developed by Motorola, Dance said.

The device will come with a microbrowser and will require 2.5G networks that support high-speed downloads and always-on Internet access. These networks are expected to be commercially available by the end of the year in parts of the United States.

The Accompli 008 weighs about 5.5 ounces and is 2.4 inches wide, 3.9 inches tall and 1.1 inches thick. The device's monochrome display has a resolution of 240 pixels by 320 pixels. A stylus can be used for text input and screen navigation, and the device offers handwriting recognition. It can synchronize with a PC to download applications and data via a serial cable or infrared connection.

The Accompli product line also includes the 009, which will come to the United States later this year and will also cost $400 to $500. It features a clamshell case, two-way e-mail paging and phone capabilities. The device comes with a color display and runs on GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) wireless networks.

The Accompli 009 weighs 5.7 ounces and measures 3.8 inches by 2.8 inches by 8.7 inches. The Accompli 009 comes with a headset, a small keyboard and "voice tags" that allow owners to preset phone numbers to certain voice commands. When the commands are spoken, the number is called.