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Danger shows off color-screen 'Hiptop'

The start-up demonstrates a prototype of a cell phone device that features Web browsing with a color screen, which sources say is the same product the FCC approved Tuesday.

After brightening the day for attendees of a New Orleans conference, Danger hopes to soon do the same for potential customers.

Danger executives demonstrated a prototype of a "Hiptop" device with a color screen at a gathering of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a hiptop product Tuesday, which sources say is the same device Danger showed off at the show.

Hiptop is a reference design for a combination cell phone and Web-browsing handheld device.

The FCC filing does not specifically mention a color display, but sources familiar with the company's plans say it is a "logical conclusion" that the device mentioned would have a color screen. FCC approval is generally one of the final barriers a company must cross before it makes a product available.

Danger said its color-screen Hiptop device will likely be commercially available in the United States this summer, but would not give a firm launch date, prices or the name of a cell phone company that would carry the product. Danger also showed off the prototype at 3GSM World Congress in February.

With the multitude of cellular phones with color screens hitting the market, a Hiptop device with a color screen should lure carriers whose subscribers increasingly want to browse the Web with a color display, according to Alex Slawsby, an analyst with research firm IDC.

"While the Hiptop was able to break new ground in the device world in terms of price point and form factor, no (other major carrier besides T-Mobile) has picked up the design," he said. "With 10 new phone models a month coming out with color displays, consumers are looking for color."

The first Hiptop device, T-Mobile's Sidekick, came out late last year for $199. It included a monochrome display and a screen that flips to the side to open, revealing a keyboard.

Although Danger is not disclosing any cell phone carrier names for the new product, the FCC filing contains a user's manual titled "T-Mobile Sidekick Reference Guide."

The venture arm of T-Mobile USA's German parent is an investor in Danger, as is European cellular carrier Orange.

Representatives from T-Mobile USA did not return calls for comment.

In related news, Danger announced Monday a new carrier deal with Triton PCS, an AT&T Wireless network member, as well as an agreement with America Online to give AOL subscribers wireless access to their e-mail accounts via devices running Danger's software and services. The AOL agreement builds off of the popularity of the AOL instant messenger capability on hiptop devices.