E-Plus to bring Danger Hiptop to Europe

Blackberry on steroids

Germany's E-Plus has become the first wireless operator to offer Danger's Hiptop mobile Internet access device to European consumers.

Hiptop will be offered to German punters next month for €249 ($290) plus €19.95 ($23) for network access.

Hiptop is essentially a wireless PDA with an integrated mobile phone. Think of a funkier, web and voice-enabled Blackberry, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what it's about. Like the RIM product, Hiptop ties into the mobile network provider's back-end systems, allowing the carrier to offer the device as a complete consumer-oriented mobile communications platform.

The clamshell device opens to reveal a QWERTY keyboard and 16-bit colour display. It provides not only PIM functionality but web browsing, email access and instant messaging using a version of AOL Instant Messenger. The system supports downloadable apps, games, ringtones and even software updates, plus texting and multimedia messaging - all the services, in other words, carriers are keen to use today to beef up their average income per user figures.

However, E-Plus has eschewed the usual GPRS per megabyte tariffs in favour of an unlimited monthly fee.

Danger already has North American partnerships with T-Mobile and SunCom in the US, and Microcell in Canada, but the E-Plus deal marks its first European venture.

Danger - which counts Apple founder Steve Wozniak among its board members - also offers its core hardware for licensing, but as yet has announced no such partners. ®

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