Nextel, RIM, Motorola work on voice-enabled PDA

By Douglas F. Gray, IDG News Service |  Hardware

Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM) is set to release by the end of the year a handheld device that would include both voice and data capabilities, thanks to an agreement with Nextel Communications Inc. and Motorola Inc.

The PDA (personal digital assistant) will use RIM's wireless e-mail technology and Motorola's iDEN (integrated digital enhanced network) technology on Nextel's nationwide network in the U.S., offering voice and two-way radio service, text and numeric paging and Nextel Wireless Web online services, RIM said in a statement.

As part of the agreement, Motorola and RIM have signed a cross-licensing agreement under which RIM will use Motorola technology in the device. The handhelds will support Java 2 Micro Edition applications, as well as messaging and application management services, the company said.

RIM has signed a multiyear agreement with Nextel to supply the BlackBerry Wireless Handhelds with associated software and services, the companies said. Pricing information was not immediately available for the devices, which are expected to launch in the fourth quarter, RIM said.

Earlier this month, RIM announced an agreement with VoiceStream Wireless Corp. that would bring new devices to market with high-speed voice and data capabilities. The deal will bring the devices, which look similar to existing units, to market by the end of the first quarter on VoiceStream's GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) service, the companies said.

The new model will feature a headphone jack for voice calls, and users will also be able to hook it to a notebook and use it as a wireless modem, VoiceStream said at the time. Pricing on the device has not been announced yet.

Handheld vendor Handspring Inc. has just started to deliver its own combination PDA and cell phone, called the Treo. During the company's earnings call earlier this month, Handspring said it expected to announce new carrier and distribution partners for the Treo this quarter.

RIM's BlackBerry wireless "always-on" e-mail devices were used by about 289,000 subscribers at the beginning of December 2001, according to RIM. They are used in more than 13,000 organizations in North America, the company said.

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