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Gaming gizmo aims to lure PCS customers

Sprint PCS has launched a gadget that promises to convert cell phones into wireless gaming consoles, part of a push to attract subscribers to advanced services.

Sprint PCS on Thursday launched a gadget that it says will convert cell phones into wireless gaming consoles.

The Game Pad game controller works with Samsung A600 handsets. The phone slides into the Game Pad, allowing people to play using its key-press features. The company said the $40 device will be available in mid-August.

U.S. wireless companies have had problems convincing America's cell phone owners to upgrade to more expensive handsets that are compatible with new services such as photo mail, downloadable games and better-quality ring tones. Sprint last month launched an aggressive effort to attract new customers for advanced cell phones and wireless services. It joined hands with Internet service provider EarthLink to allow Net users view their e-mail and their personalized Web pages on some Sprint PCS cell phones.

"Customers can do more with their phones than just make clear calls, and we have seen evidence of this with PCS games," John Garcia, senior vice president of Sprint's PCS division, said in a statement.

The wireless company, based in Westwood, Kan., said that its customers have purchased more than 2 million games since the launch of PCS Vision phones last August and that 2.1 million customers were using PCS Vision at the end of second quarter. These handsets allow customers to take and receive pictures from select PCS phones and to browse the Internet.

CNET's Ben Charny contributed to this report.