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Linux handset to integrate GPS

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Motorola is to bundle GPS navigation software and hardware with the European versions of its A780 and MPx220 smart phones.

Both handsets will include navigation specialist ALK Technologies' CoPilot Live software and Navteq street and places-of-interest maps for European countries on a suitable memory card. The Linux-based A780 contains its own GPS receiver hardware, while the Windows Mobile-based MPx220 will require a separate Bluetooth-enabled GPS receiver.

CoPilot Live uses maps and GPS location data to calculate multi-stage routes, displaying turn-by-turn directions on screen and speaking them out loud for safety. The software also plugs into ALK's GPRS-based tracking system, which allows third-parties to find out precisely where the user is and how long he or she will take to arrive at their destination. The product can also quickly plot a new course on the back of up-to-the-minute traffic news, or to take the user around a jam.

GPS navigation has proved something of a boom market in Europe, growing sales in the otherwise declining PDA market as a variety of vendors have bundled low-cost handhelds, GPS receivers and navigation software that together cost far less than dedicated GPS systems.

David Quin, ALK's UK maketing chief, said the Motorola deal was "an important step on the road to mass-market adoption of GPS navigation".

ALK has been active in the market for some time, developing navigation software for PocketPCs. Last September, it introduced the software to Windows smart phones. The release of the A780 version marks the software's Linux debut.

The Motorola deal follows a similar agreement reached recently with T-Mobile, which said it will bundle CoPilot Live with its SDA and MDA Compact smart phones. Again, both handsets use Bluetooth to communicate with a separate GPS receiver. T-Mobile said it would also offer CoPilot Live separately to existing SDA and MDA users.

Motorola's handsets and GPS bundles will be available from "select" mobile operators throughout Europe. Pricing and availability will be determined by the carriers themselves. ®

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