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MS plucks Sierra Wireless for smartphone

Xscale win

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A Canadian modem company, Sierra Wireless is to introduce a smartphone based on Microsoft's Smartphone 2003 platform next year. The 'Voq' looks like a candybar phone, but its keypad opens to form a fold-out QWERTY keyboard. Flextronics will manufacture the device, which runs on GSM/GPRS networks. Sierra is targeting business users in North America and Europe where it does most of its business.

Speculation last week had suggested Microsoft could be about to lure another Tier 1 manufacturer to the cause. Sierra turned over $78 million in 2002, largely from the direct and OEM sales of its Aircard PC modems. Arguably, it's a more significant win for Intel, which has had a hard time persuading smartphone manufacturers to opt for its Xscale hardware in preference to DSP pioneer Texas Instruments' OMAP offering.

"Sierra has applied for patent protection to cover the unique hardware and software differentiators it has conceived in the Voq product line", the company said in a statement. Which serves two purposes: to stop rivals poaching the hardware design, or perhaps, mindful of the Sendo lawsuit, deter Microsoft poaching their know-how.

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