Siemens pins Blackberry to cross-shaped mobile

The SK65 mobile phone unfolds to display a full keyboard and uses Blackberry technology to access email and other corporate applications

Siemens has launched a mobile phone aimed at enterprise users that it claims is the first to include full Blackberry functionality and integration with ERP systems from companies such as SAP.

The Siemens SK65, launched at an event at the London Stock Exchange on Monday, is aimed at the corporate business market and allows mobile access to email packages such as Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes and HP GroupWise. A "cross to type" feature lets the user access a full keyboard by twisting the lower edge of the phone through 90 degrees -- producing a cross-shaped device.

Siemens is pushing for a late October or early November launch for the phone, which it claims will be "adequately priced". The company wouldn't be drawn on an exact list price, claiming final cost would depend on the volume of an individual order.

The SK65 also makes use of the Mobile Data Service (MDS) feature of the Blackberry Enterprise Server to allow remote access to corporate data, such as intranet pages and databases from behind the firewall. Siemens is also working with SAP to bring the ERP vendor's Solutions for Mobile Business on to the SK65.

Siemens claims to be firmly focused on the high-end mobile space and said it will release three more 'premium' phones by the end of this year.

The phone does not make use of any 3G technology; Siemens claims GPRS and GSM are adequate for the applications that it will be used for.

The German hardware manufacturer's handset sales have been suffering recently, with the mobile phone division posting an €88m (£58m) loss in the latest quarterly results. The company also lost market share in the first quarter of this year, according to analyst Gartner, coming in fourth in terms of handsets shipped.

Siemens board member Thorstein Heins admitted that sales had been slow this year but said that the company was hoping the new product launch and business strategy would help lift future profits.
"Yes, we are in a transition phase but we are optimistic that it will pick up pace again," he said.

At the end of July, Siemens merged its mobile and fixed communications business into a single group called Siemens Communications.

Siemen's president, Lothar Pauly, said the industry should be working towards making all kinds of communication tools, whether mobile or fixed-line, work together as if they were all part of one common system. "The user should not bother about which kind of interface or access technology he is using but always use the one that serves his needs best," he said.

The Siemens SK65 handset

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