Electronics giant Amstrad is poised to jump on the wireless application protocol (Wap) bandwagon.
The company plans to roll out Internet-enabled mobile phones at the end of March, according to industry sources. The mass-market product is being developed with BT's Internet and multimedia division.
Amstrad will join Orange, Vodafone, BT Cellnet and Virgin who have all announced such initiatives.
Wap-enabled phones have been slow to take off in the UK because of their cost and a shortage of handsets. Sources said Amstrad's phone will, like the company's other offerings, be priced to "gallop out of the shop".
Amstrad this week delivered a sharp boost in profit and a confident forecast, bolstered by the demand for digital televisions.
The Amstrad Group turned in doubled half-year profit at £8.2 million, a 34 per cent increase from the same period in 1998.
The company said it had benefited from a strong demand for its set-top boxes which receive BSkyB's digital TV service, but had opted not to develop higher-specification boxes like rival Pace Micro Technology. Amstrad will instead bet its fortunes on the Wap phone which will take the company straight into the lucrative world of ecommerce, said sources.
Amstrad said it does not comment on future plans.
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