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CeBIT Fujitsu Siemens makes its big play for the high-end PDA biz next week with the official 'launch' of the Pocket LOOX.

Retailing at an expected EUR699 (EX-VAT), the LOOX is Wintel through and through - it uses an Intel ARM-based XScale processor and Microsoft Pocket 2002 OS. There's no shipping date yet, beyond "sometime in Q2".

The Pocket LOOX has a welter of connectivity options, including WLAN, accessed through a Compact Flash Card slot type II. It's also supplied with an integrated Bluetooth Module; and a plug-in GPRS module complete with own battery for full mobile phone functionality is pencilled for shipment in July. Surely this enough for any road warrior/desktop synchronisation combo?

Oh yes, it's got a colour screen, it's housed in a tablet-based Palm-type form-factor and it weighs in at 175gm.

Fujitsu Siemens is positioning the device against the Compaq iPaq, the Compaq iPAQ, Sagem WA 3050 and Trium Mondo. The company joining an increasingly crowded connected PDA market in Europe with RIM's Blackberry and Handspring Treo making their European debut this month. Palm is making a fresh foray for the high-end space in Europe, and then the phone makers are breathing down everyone's neck. And all the other Pocket PC-based resellers.

However, it is a growth market and, at least at the mobile-Internet high-end, is not yet fully-commoditised, meaning there's scope for margin.

According to figures cited by Fujitsu Siemens, two million PDA devices were sold in Europe in 2001, with sales in Q1 more than double that of Q1, 2000. The market is expected to grow 25 per cent a year, resulting in annual sales of c.10 million devices in Europe in 2005. ®

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