Suggestions that the future of GPRS was bleak were denied by American mobile manufacturer Motorola, as it announced details of four new GPRS-enabled products.
Motorola was the first of the big mobile phone makers to bring a GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) handset to the commercial market with the Timeport 260. It plans to release a sequel called the Timeport 280 which will offer faster connection speeds.
Unlike the Timeport 260, which only uses three GSM slots to download information, the 280 will use a fourth, which will let a user access information quicker. Like the 260, it is GSM tri-band.
Motorola also announced the Talkabout 192, an entry-level GPRS phone, and the Accompli 008 which combines the functionality of a phone and PDA. Motorola also announced details of the V66 phone, which it claims will appeal to fashion-conscious users. All the devices should be on sale in Europe by mid-2001.
"These four devices enforce Motorola's position as the leading player in the General Packet Radio Service marketplace," claimed Mike Zafirovski, Motorola's executive vice president of personal communications. Zafirovski also revealed that Motorola was close to announcing a deal to sell 500,000 Timeport 260s, to a yet-unnamed buyer.
Rival Nokia announced details of its first two GPRS-enables phones yesterday. GPRS networks allows faster connection speeds than GSM -- on which it is based -- but as fast as forthcoming 3G networks.
"With the Accompli 008, users will be able to send SMS, faxes and emails when on the move, and play games such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Trivial Pursuit," said Zafirovski. The Accompli has 2Mb of memory to run applications, and its handwriting recognition including support for Chinese.
Although it boasts fewer features than the Accompli, Zafirovski was enthusiastic about the V66: "This is the little black dress of the mobile space."
The V66 -- which will be available in silver or blue -- weighs 79g, and at just 84x44x21mm is the smallest of the four devices Motorola announced. It will record three minutes of voice memo, and users will be able to download tunes and screensavers. Six different front accessories will be available, suggesting the V66 will be marketed as a fashion item rather than an enterprise product.
Dominic Stowbridge, director of communications for Motorola, refuted claims that the rollout of third-generation (3G) networks, which are expected to take place in 2003 in Europe, would mean network operators would be reluctant to invest in GPRS.
"GPRS gives valuable experience to service providers, who will be able to re-use the infrastructure for 3G," Stowbridge said, adding that the transition to 3G would take time. "GPRS will be around for the next ten to 15 years."
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