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Hotels the driver of smartphone sales

What is driving the growth of devices like the Blackberry and the Treo 650? Lousy hotel ISP service, says chip industry analyst and informal conference anthropologist Dan Hutcheson of VLSI Research.

"Every executive I talk to raves about them and the primary reason is integration of e-mail," he says. "They don't have to wrestle with hotel ISP after dinner each night. Connecting in hotels is as awful as it has ever been. Your blood pressure is rising as you stress out over the urgent need to get your e-mail out and the need to get some sleep before that seven oÂ’clock breakfast meeting. PDA phones end all that."

Executives were the first to adopt cell phones (recall Michael Douglas manhandling a brick phone in Wall Street). A trend toward email phone could shake up the booming laptop market if the masses decide to adopt fancy handhelds, he theorized.

These companies still have to work out some design kinks. I tried a Treo for a week and at the end wanted to stab it with a barbeque fork--I still can't figure out how to shut it off. My wife uses a Blackberry. She loves it, but the loud, vigorous vibrations that occur when a call comes in ("It's 9:00 pm, time to work!") can be heard two rooms away in our house, earning it the nickname "the warthog."