Microsoft to phase out Pocket PC, Smartphone brands

Windows Mobile brand takes over as device types merge

LAS VEGAS -- Microsoft is gradually phasing out its Pocket PC and Smartphone brands in favor of an overarching Windows Mobile brand, a company representative said Thursday.

In the past 18 months, Microsoft has already been pushing the Windows Mobile brand more than the individual Pocket PC and Smartphone names. Over the next year or two, the product category names will be completely phased out as the technologies merge, said Scott Horn, a senior director in Microsoft's Mobile and Embedded Devices group in an interview at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

"We are emphasizing Windows Mobile as device categories are coming together," he said. He added that 90 percent of the code for Smartphone and Pocket PC is the same.

Microsoft introduced Pocket PC as a brand in 2000 when it entered the PDA (personal digital assistant) market. Smartphone came around in 2002 when the first phone running Microsoft software was introduced in Europe.

Without the Smartphone and Pocket PC names, there is no longer a distinction between Windows Mobile phone-centric devices and data-centric devices, which could confuse consumers. "We will have to be more explicit in communicating device capabilities," Horn said.

The Pocket PC name in particular has become a common brand and is used broadly. Hewlett-Packard Co. uses the Pocket PC name for its iPaq devices. Microsoft is working with device makers on the naming changes, Horn said.

In the future, retailers will sell Windows Mobile devices, instead of Smartphones and Pocket PCs. Most of the devices will offer phone capabilities, according to Horn, and buyers will select based on a list of device capabilities and their needs.

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