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New Siemens phone connects to BlackBerry

High-end phone to offer e-mail access. Coming next: A blend of wireline and wireless features.

Siemens on Monday announced a new phone that it says incorporates full BlackBerry functionality.

The tri-band SK65 phone will offer e-mail management through a licensing deal with Research In Motion, which makes the popular BlackBerry e-mail device. SK65 customers will be able to manage e-mail with Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes.

The keyboard is tucked into the phone, and when it slides out, the device has a crosslike shape, the company said. A customer can type on each side of the display. The phone will be available to retailers in November, but pricing details have not been announced.

Siemens SK65

Siemens has launched two other "premium" phones this year: the S65 compact business handset and the SL65, an updated version of the SL55, a "slider phone." A slider phone is one that is more compact because the keypad slides into the phone's earpiece. The company hopes to launch another high-end handset before the end of the year.

Siemens said it expects high-end phones that offer e-mail access to account for 20 percent of the wireless market by 2006.

The SK65 also fits into work that Siemens is doing on an initiative to offer products that support convergence of wireline and wireless networks, the company said.

Siemens plans to consolidate its fixed-network solutions and wireless products for businesses as well as service providers under a new communications group, which will begin operating Oct. 1. That group hopes to offer "unified solutions that enable all forms of communication, such as PCs, PDAs, mobile phones and wireless modules, to interact seamlessly, as if they were all part of a common network of networks," Lothar Pauly, CEO of the new group, said in a release.

The SK65 follows a new trend of cell phone makers seeking to add e-mail functionality to their devices. Recently, Motorola announced that some of its new handsets will come loaded with BlackBerry messaging software.