The new brand-name, i-mate, is distributed by Carrier Devices, which was formed in 2001 by a group of people who left BT when the telco restructured.
The handsets launched by Carrier Devices are almost physically identical to handsets already on the market, and differ only in the software loaded onto them. The i-mate Pocket PC uses the same hardware as the xda 2, while the i-mate Smartphone2 strongly resembles the Xphone launched by O2 and the Qtek 7070 Smartphone launched through Optus.
Jim Morrison, founder and CEO of Carrier Devices, told ZDNet Australia the company was launching under its own brand because it has proved itself in the marketplace, and partners --particularly Microsoft -- were now willing to issue a license under the i-Mate brand.
Both devices use Microsoft's Windows CE operating system, which the head of Microsoft's mobility division Callum Russell claimed had the benefit of being familiar to most people and more secure that most of Microsoft's products.
"The platform of Windows CE has been build differently [to other Microsoft operating systems]," said Russell, adding that Microsoft had learnt lessons from Windows XP and other desktop operating systems. "I'm not saying it will never happen, but a lot of the technology means it's a lot more difficult."
Morrison said Carrier Devices has formed a partnership with Telstra, who was looking for technical support and assistance with network optimisation from device manufacturers rather than "just a box". Smartphones and mobile/PDA phones are complicated devices, according to Morrison. Carrier Devices also has a "strong relationship" with Vodafone and is looking to partner with the other carriers.
Morrison touted the amount of third-party applications available to run on the Windows CE platform, and referred to Club i-mate, which will offer software for the devices at a discount.