New cell phones aim to entertain

Throughout the year, the world's two leading handset makers, Nokia and Motorola, will be giving wireless phones some specialties like gaming or messaging.

Ben Charny Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Ben Charny
covers Net telephony and the cellular industry.
Ben Charny
3 min read
A cell phone isn't just a cell phone anymore. Instead, the world's two leading handset makers, Nokia and Motorola, are giving wireless phones specialties like gaming or messaging.

The latest evidence of the trend came Wednesday, when Motorola unveiled some of its 2003 phone plans. The lineup includes the T725 and A835 models, gaming phones that will "satisfy the mobile gamers' cravings," because they can download games over the air and play them on larger color screens, Motorola said. The phones will cost between $200 and $300.

The handset makers are gambling that more specialized phones will help better target customers. One of the key markets in the United States is 18- to 24-year-olds, a group that lags the rest of the country in terms of cell phone usage. Motorola thinks that the ability to personalize a phone is the key, and its E380, also announced Wednesday, can change shape as new faceplates are added. The E380's price was not released.

Motorola also plans to make phones that specialize in photo messaging, one of the new services that wireless carriers hope will pull them out of two straight years of decreasing phone sales. Other Motorola phones let people personalize them by changing their shape, according to Motorola.

Motorola has said that it aims to have 25 percent of the global cell-phone market over the long term, compared with its 14.4 percent share at the end of the third quarter, according to market researcher Gartner Dataquest. Motorola was above 15.5 percent in the previous two quarters.

Nokia's 2003 lineup of phones is divided along similar lines. The Finnish phone maker has created messaging specialists like the 6800, which has a keyboard, said Joe Laszlo, a Jupiter Research wireless analyst. Among the eight phones Nokia intends to release this year include "media phones" such as the 7250, designed to swap photos with other phones. These phones range in price from $100 to $500.

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"Motorola and Nokia are clearly making more individualized phones," Laszlo said.

Nokia representative Keith Nowak had no comment on Motorola's phone lineup.

U.S. carriers T-Mobile, AT&T Wireless and Cingular Wireless are candidates to sell each of the eight phones introduced by Motorola. Those phones all use a variation of the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) standard. Motorola did not say which U.S. carriers would sell the phone.

Its V600, a camera-phone that uses Bluetooth technology for wireless networking, costs about $300. The C350, which costs about $100, will be targeted at teens and youths, and initially be sold in Asia.

Motorola's new A835, which has video camera, MP3 and PDA (personal digital assistant) features, will sell for between $450 and $500. Prices for the E365, which has an embedded camera, and for the V295, another camera phone, were not disclosed.

None of the Schaumberg, Ill., company's phones is available now. Motorola plans to begin shipping two of the phones, the A388c and V295, before June. The others will be available in the second half of 2003, Motorola says.

Reuters contributed to this report.