Microsoft on Tuesday showcased a newly announced push-to-talk device in a keynote presentation at the CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment show, but the company also had some leftover business from Monday's unveiling of a Windows Mobile-powered Palm Treo.
At the widely publicized San Francisco press conference on Monday where Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates showed off the upcoming Treo, the phone number of the Treo he was using appeared on a video screen. That led to "some pretty amusing and strange text messages," said Suzan DelBene, corporate vice president of marketing for Microsoft's Mobile and Embedded Devices Division, who was given the device after the press conference. She held it up during her keynote address Tuesday morning.
"This device, if you notice, the network isn't working, because this is the device we gave to Bill Gates yesterday. ... It [was] ringing in my room all night. I finally had to shut it off," DelBene said.
Also in the presentation, DelBene showed off the Motorola i930, which she called the first Windows Mobile device with push-to-talk capability. It will run on Sprint Nextel's iDEN cellular network as well as 900MHz and 1800MHz GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) networks, allowing for international use. The clamshell device is built on the Windows Mobile Smartphone platform. It will be available next month for $499.99 before discounts and promotions, according to Sprint.
Nokia's Mary McDowell, executive vice president and general manager of the phone and infrastructure giant's enterprise group, followed DelBene's presentation by discussing the growth of business mobility as well as barriers to its use.
Small businesses, more than vertical applications, are leading the adoption of mobile work technologies, McDowell said. More people are working away from the office, but mobility technologies don't automatically grow along with that trend, she said.
"It's not as simple as giving a user a device and saying, 'Here's your e-mail. Go forth and be productive,'" McDowell said. There are "ripple effects" of a mobile data rollout, including issues such as how to secure the system, which applications to mobilize, who will pay for the service and who in the company should have mobile data capability, she said.
An enterprise executive invited by Nokia recounted the glitches he encountered in several weeks of travel with mobile data services. They included loss of coverage in some areas and the need to manually find carriers who could deliver good performance after arrival in a new country, said Peter Johnston, vice president of IT at WPP Asia, a Hong Kong-based unit of WPP Group. The marketing, advertising, and communications company has forty offices and 6,500 employees spread across 18 countries in Asia-Pacific alone, he said.
From service providers, WPP needs seamless Web browsing, less expensive international roaming, and more choices, Johnston said. From vendors, he'd like to get devices that let him download and edit attachments, the ability to plug a USB (Universal Serial Bus) flash drive into a phone, and a connector for projectors to give presentations. Also on Johnston's wish list is better security, better browsers with a more complete Web experience, and a better focus on Asia-Pacific. For example, support for double-byte character sets and Japan's CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) networks sometimes seem to be afterthoughts, Johnston said.
"It's just not dummy-proof yet," Johnston said.
Last on the keynote lineup, Sean Maloney, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's Mobility Group, joined with a Koninklijke Philips Electronics executive to demonstrate a software-defined GPS radio running on an Intel XScale processor. The software runs all the baseband functions of the radio, which normally operate in hardware, the Philips executive said. Philips expects the technology to start appearing in mobile phones next year and also to come soon in notebooks, he said. They demonstrated using the GPS to show where the device and friends' devices were located on Google Maps.