3Com will debut its cellular smartphone next year in Europe, not the US, because of the advanced state of Europe?s cellular phone networks.
A smartphone, using the GSM cellular standard, and based on the technology used in 3Com?s Palmpilot personal digital assistant, will be announced next year, the company?s chief executive, Eric Benhamou, said here at the Networld+Interop exhibition today.
However, rather than launching the product in the US, where 3Com is headquartered, the product will make its debut in Europe, according to Benhamou.
?The first target is Europe as an early market for smartphones,? he said, adding that cellular equipment vendors in the US have been hampered by the slow transition of US cellular networks from analogue to digital.
?Europe is at least two years ahead of the US in deploying GSM. That gap is not likely to close in the near term,? said Benhamou. ?Americans are just coming to grips with the transition to a digital wireless infrastructure.?
Benhamou declined to confirm whether the product would be developed solely by 3Com, or in partnership with an established cellular phone manufacturer. 3Com currently works with German telecomms equipment manufacturer Siemens on corporate phone network products.
?For mobile phones, we?re more likely to partner with someone with a lot of wireless expertise,? said Benhamou.
Qualcomm, an advocate of the widely used US cellular standard CDMA, has a smartphone product in the US and this week formed a joint venture with Microsoft to make intelligent phones (see Newswire 4 November).
But Benhamou said he wasn?t worried about the danger of Qualcomm dominating the US smartphone market and blocking out 3Com.
3Com has previously announced plans to launch a telephone for use on corporate networks and claims it has several different ideas for what it calls its 'Lanphone'.
First of these is a phone integrated with a PC, where all the end user sees is a handset on the side of the PC.
The second type would be an independent phone, connected directly to a 10Base-T line, and the third would be a high end phone providing Web access, calendaring, and other functions of the Palmpilot, in addition to basic telephony. This is closest to the device that Qualcomm and Microsoft plan to design and would also compete with the smartphones coming out of the Symbian consortium.
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