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MS Stinger smartphones finally poised to ship

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Mobile phones based on Microsoft's Stinger smartphone platform are finally set to ship, with the UK's Sendo likely to be the first. Yesterday Sendo announced that it would be supplying handsets, starting with its Z100 smartphone, to US carrier Cingular Wireless, while at CeBIT Sendo said the phone would be available in Europe from the beginning of June.

Also at CeBIT Samsung, another Stinger contender, was showing its own version, and promising it would ship in four countries in Europe in early Q4. Jay Yeo, Samsung manager of wireless communications told CeBIT News' Peter Dykes that the company was currently in talks with several European operators, but declined to be more specific. The handset, which has a 176x200 16bit/65k colour TFT screen and is GPRS, will be aimed at high end and corporate users. Earlier, Samsung had said it would be shipping Symbian-based phones, but would not be abandoning Microsoft-based designs.

Samsung handsets using Microsoft's smartphone platform were however - according to an announcement made by the companies in June 2000 - due to be available "in 2001." Sendo's Stinger was demoed at GSM Cannes last year, and was due "in autumn 2001," while HTC was coming up with phones "later" in 2001 and Mitsubishi Triums were down for "late 2001."

So we're all just a tad late here, and it surely can't all be down to the introduction of the joint reference design with Texas Instruments last month. But the TI design (which uses Microsoft's Smartphone 2002) is intended to give "manufacturers a simple, fast and direct approach for getting new products with enhanced data capabilities in their customers' hands." So maybe there's some relationship.

Microsoft places wired pocket devices in two categories. Smartphone 2002 devices are essentially phone handsets with keypads, usually colour screens and the necessary buttons to play games with, while PocketPC 2002 Phone Edition devices are essentially PDAs with phone capabilities. One of the first of the latter out will now be mm02's xda, which is built by HTC, but these are if anything even later than the smartphones.

Sagem's WA3050 was the subject of some ecstatic spinning by Microsoft in November 2000, and the device was originally promised for Q1 2001. Today, Sagem's online sales site is indeed offering the WA3050 for sale, but even on the French site it's flagged as "nouveau." And even with an SFR sub the price is eye-watering.

Meanwhile the man in charge of Microsoft's Mobility Group, Ben Waldman, has taken "personal leave," which in Microsoft parlance can mean being out of the office for up to a year, but does not mean you're leaving, necessarily. It is apparently entirely different from sabbatical, which doesn't last so long, but generally means you are leaving. And no, we're not making this up; if anybody made it up it was ZDNET, and why on earth would they do that?

Waldman, for the record, recently did an entertainingly gung ho interview with The Register. Presumably he must have been demob-happy. ®

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