The evolution of the fiercely competitive wireless phone industry continues at a blistering pace, offering consumers and businesses growing opportunities to boost productivity, efficiency, and on-the-go capabilities.
Cell phones these days are rapidly morphing to include everything from digital cameras and video recorders to personal digital assistants and even televisions. Wireless service plans, too, are offering growing options and incentives for consumers and businesses. And network coverage and speed are continuing to improve throughout the country.
Experts say continued demand by increasingly sophisticated users, along with competition in the industry, should propel technological advances and put downward pressure on pricing.
The next-generation combination phone and PDA using the PocketPC platform. Offers continuous connectivity to the Internet via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth wireless technology. Equipped with a 1.2 megapixel digital camera; features a 2.8-inch touch-screen display. Also comes with an expansion card slot to add up to one gigabyte of removable storage. Slated for release later this year.
"Mobility is really being adopted in the enterprise realm," says Laurie Armstrong of cell phone maker Nokia. "More and more businesses are enabling their employees to go mobile, which begs for devices for mobile users to use more text messaging and connections to the office."
Nokia is among a bevy of companies, including No. 1 U.S. cell phone maker Motorola, that are adding everything from cameras to video recorders to their phones.
"Some customers just want to use the phone to talk, but then you show them the camera phone and how easy it is to use and how they can send pictures across the country to family and friends," says Gabriel Torres, a retail vice president for Sprint PCS' West region. "All of the sudden, people get enchanted."
Camera phones – and the ability to send the pictures to other phones or e-mail addresses, in particular – have been popular among Hispanics and other consumers, says Alisa Joseph, vice president of advertising and marketer services for Scarborough Research in Florida.
"There's been a growth in usage by the Hispanic population that's primarily been linked to the fact that they're very connected," says Ms. Joseph. "Family is very important, and they maintain levels of communication with family members who are traveling or living in other parts of the world."
Handspring Treo 600
One of the most recognized combination mobile phones and handheld computers. Powered by the Palm operating system. Offers combined features of both products, including a built-in camera and memory card slot for accessing files such as photos and MP3s.
Wireless connection options for such mobile users also are improving, with providers such as Verizon Wireless testing faster networks capable of carrying quality streaming video and AT&T Wireless expanding its faster network.
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