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Mobile

Xerox jumps into wireless market

The company is set to introduce software enabling business users to retrieve electronic documents via mobile phones, two-way pagers or handheld computers, marking the company's first foray into the wireless market.

Xerox is set to introduce software enabling business users to retrieve electronic documents via mobile phones, two-way pagers or handheld computers, marking the company's first foray into the wireless market.

Xerox Mobile Solutions, a business group within Xerox's Internet business division, has developed MobileDoc, a client and server software package that will be announced--and commercially available--next week during the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association's annual trade show.

The company also will announce co-marketing agreements with Nokia, Motorola and WebLink Wireless.

The move is the latest Internet-related effort for Xerox, a company best known for its high-end photocopy machines and laser printers but which has tried to recast itself as "the digital document company" in recent years as profits from its core products sink.

The new software also is Xerox's first wireless product since forming the mobile unit a year ago, providing further evidence of the growing interest in wireless technologies. Hundreds of technology companies--the major Internet portals, for example--are developing plans to participate in the wireless industry, which is expected to reach 1 billion users worldwide in just a few years.

MobileDoc, which is targeted at large business customers, allows users to retrieve a variety of electronic documents--such as Microsoft Office, portable document files (PDFs) and HTML pages--by having them forwarded to any email address or fax machine. The software on a phone, pager or handheld computer remotely connects to software installed on a file server or corporate network.

"The critical missing link (with wireless data) is how do you move from information to making content much more meaningful and useful to the mobile user. What users want to do is get access to their documents," said Clarence Wesley, general manager for Xerox Mobile Solutions.

"There's an unmet need for documents in the mobile space," he said.

Currently, MobileDoc is available on Web-enabled Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) phones in Europe and on Motorola's PageWriter two-way pager in the United States. Xerox is testing the service for U.S. WAP phones and expects to offer commercial Web-based phone service domestically during the third quarter, Wesley said.

Xerox also will begin testing a version for Palm VII handheld computers, which have wireless connection capabilities, during the second quarter.

The company is expected to announce pricing for MobileDoc next week.