Siemens unveils GPRS handheld for enterprise users

More PDA action, as Siemens shows off a colour handheld with built-in GPRS capability

Siemens, the world's fourth largest mobile handset maker, is set to enter the handheld computer market by the end of this summer with a GPRS-enabled PDA.

The German electronics company will market the new device -- dubbed the SX45 -- as an enterprise tool, rather than a consumer gadget. Based on Microsoft's Pocket PC 3.0 platform, the SX45 will contain embedded GPRS technology which will allow a user to browse the Internet, check and send email, and access a virtual private network faster than with a GSM handset, as well as making and receiving voice calls. It is expected to be on sale in October 2001, but will be available to companies to test in the summer.

Yesterday, Siemens announced that it would start selling a GPRS phone from July 2001.

"We anticipate that 70 percent of the market for the SX45 will be to the enterprise sector," said Peter Esser of Siemens, Products and Supply Division "A salesman out on the road, for example, will be able to access his company's network to read his email, or even to carry out share trading," suggested Esser.

The SX45 has a colour touchscreen, contains 32Mb Ram and weighs under 400g. It contains a Type II CompactFlash card, allowing users add extra memory. The slot can also be used to fit a video camera or an MP3 player.

Final pricing is yet to be announced, but Esser expected that it would be in the region of 1000 Euros. However, he suggested that network operators desperate for GPRS-enabled handsets and PDAs might offer the SX45 at a cheaper price. "We might see mobile phones deciding to subsidise the cost in order to satisfy a demand for GPRS handsets," Esser said.

At a demonstration, a Siemens technician showed that the SX45 could be used to capture a single snapshot or a sequence of video, which could then be emailed directly to a friend or business contact. However, the technician admitted that it could take between three and five minutes for a video clip to be compressed and sent.

The SX45 was announced at CeBIT, where Fujitsu-Siemens -- a joint venture between Siemens and Japanese consumer electronics firm Fujitsu -- announced its plans for the coming financial year. The company claimed that it was expecting to achieve a ten percent growth in revenue in the coming financial year, from 6bn euros to 6.6bn euros. It expects to achieve 40 percent growth in its sales of enterprise products, and 30 percent growth for mobile PC products.

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