Microsoft Pocket PCs And Smartphones Get A Boost; Sprint, RIM Sign On

The devices, made by Hitachi and Samsung, will offer such features as a digital camera, e-mail, calendar and contacts.

Devices that use Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system currently ship on T-Mobile and AT&T Wireless GSM networks, but Sprint and Verizon Wireless are the first CDMA networks in the United States to adopt the Pocket PC platform.

Verizon and AT&T Wireless are also expected to start shipping Microsoft- powered Smartphones this year, said Ed Suwanjindar, lead product manager of mobile devices at Microsoft.

Suwanjindar said Microsoft has a strong emphasis on third-party application development for mobile devices.

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"We believe firmly that the best [application] work is done by third parties," he said. "The device is only as good as the set of application services it offers."

Via Microsoft's Mobile to Market program, Sprint plans to make a catalog of applications developed by third parties available to its customers. Suwanjindar said the catalog so far has about 100 applications developed by third parties in the United States and Europe. There is a fair mix of consumer and business application in the catalog, he said.

Research In Motion (RIM) is also licensing its software technology to manufacturers developing on Microsoft's Pocket PCs and Smartphone platforms, as well as Symbian-based phones. Mobile device manufacturers and mobile operators will be able to integrate BlackBerry e-mail and data services into their Pocket PC and Smartphone products, RIM officials said.