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Wednesday, 20 March, 2002, 17:10 GMT
Here come the smartphones
test hello test
By BBC News Online's Ivan Noble
from CeBIT 2002 in Hanover
A rash of new smartphones based on one version or other of Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system has made its debut at the CeBIT technology fair in Hanover.

HP Jornada 928
HP's device has a headset
The Xda pictured above should be available this year to customers of mmO2, the British mobile phone network formerly known as Cellnet.

The British-designed Sendo Z100 smartphone is intended for one-hand operation.

And the HP Jornada 928 looks more like a conventional personal digital assistant, but offers data connections via GPRS and a headset for making phone calls.

Testing the water

The new devices are part of the process of working out what customers really want from new generation phones.

Sendo Z100 smartphone
British design: The Sendo Z100
Optimism in the face of an uncertain future has been the order of the day at CeBIT 2002, which ends on Wednesday.

Putting together combination devices and testing the market reaction is what the industry is doing before the launch of third-generation networks.

If it can establish how customers will make use of better mobile data access and more powerful phone software, it will be in a better position to make a profit from something that has already cost billions of pounds in investment and licence fees.

Mobile data

These new phones combine the standard diary, phone book and notepad facilities of a conventional electronic organiser with phone access.

So where older PDAs require a cable or an infra-red link to a mobile phone to send e-mail or browse the internet, these devices have their own phone onboard.

And given that they run a relatively common operating system, Microsoft's Pocket PC, owners will be able to load a fair few additional programs on to the devices.

Some have expansion slots to add more options.

The smartphones will not be cheap, especially compared with current phones, but phone operator subsidies with new contracts could make them more attractive.

BBC News Interactive reports from the CeBIT technology fair in Hanover





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