Sanyo trumpets Wipoq debut
'Personal mobile gateway'
3GSM Sanyo has announced the first Wipoq; a messaging hand-held, not a phone. What is it? It's a "personal mobile gateway" peripheral device - but a breakthrough: it's one that doesn't actually need a PMG to work.
The news announcement conceals the breakthrough well. It says, blandly, that Sanyo has licensed an operating system for mobile devices; specifically, the IXI Mobile OS. The PMG is a development which everybody in Bluetooth said "that's obvious" three years ago.
IXI Mobile built one. It was a GSM phone that didn't have a keyboard or a speaker or a microphone or a display; just a bluetooth wireless. And then they designed "sleek" peripherals.
One would be a camera, one might be a message pad, one might be a headset and another might be a handset. There might even be a games console.
All those need a connection to the GSM network. None of them has a GSM wireless. So how do they work? Easy: all of them link to that network through the phone without keyboard; the Personal Mobile Gateway.
Few people have understood the idea, and there are genuine problems selling it. AT&T are keen on it: they've announced the Ogo message system. It's a PMG but sold purely as a box for SMS and email.
Sanyo has gone for something that at first looks similar. But the thing is just a bit cleverer; IXI Mobile has done away with the need for a PMG.
The Wipoq works best with a personal mobile gateway. But if one isn't available, it will work almost as well if it can find a mobile phone with the Lan Access Profile (LAP) built in. That's not the majority of the phones in the world; more like 30 per cent at most. Well - not to worry! -it'll work OK if you have any bluetooth phone with the standard SPP serial protocol profile... but it will lose some of the nicest features.
But it works.
The press release (here) refers to the "first Wipoq device" as simply: "A sleek multimedia messenger with a built-in Java browser, large screen, QWERTY keyboard, and easy to use interface."
Sanyo's Dr Yukinori Matsumoto (pictured above with a prototype) said that he expected first volume shipments in September, pricing somewhere between $200- $300 and available to real users by Xmas this year. But he has more plans, and there will be more Wi family devices next year.