Motorola Launches Wi-Fi Only Windows Phone

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It looks like a Windows Mobile phone, but it’s got no cellular. Motorola thinks this could save money for your corridor warriors

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Motorola has launched a set of Windows Mobile phones in Europe, that don’t have cellular access. They are Wi-Fi only devices intended for “corridor warriors” who work on campus.

Voice over Wi-Fi is often proposed as a way to reduce the bills of staff who use their mobile phones while on-site, but away from their desks. Vendors such as Agito and DiVitas usually offer dual-mode devices – smartphones with Wi-Fi that operate indoors and outdoors.

The TEAM devices (Total Enterprise Access and Mobility) are different from that: they look and feel like chunky (150g) mobile phones, but they are actually Wi-Fi only handsets, designed to act as a replacement to corporate PBX extensions. “This is the first Wi-Fi only Windows Mobile 6.1 platform,” said Michael Womeldorph, director of product marketing at Motorola. “It looks like an extension on the PBX, but it is actually a SIP-integrated phone, and it can run applications, email and Internet browsing.”

The phone also does “push-to-talk” using Motorola’s iDEN engine, a walkie-talkie function much better known in the US than in Europe, and which can be integrated with existing two-way radios, said Womeldorph.

The phones are intended for companies such as retailers and warehouse businesses, that have good wireless LANs and plenty of mobile staff working on campus. Despite the growth of dual-mode phones, Infonetics Research has predicted that the number of single-mode WiFi phones used by enterprises in EMEA will continue to grow at a rate of 28.2 percent up till 2013

The phones are the first marriage of Motorola’s cellphone business and its enterprise mobility division (formerly Symbol Systems), said Womeldorph. Previously the Trapeze technology has produced the MC series of ruggedised handhelds, but these have been PDAs rather than smartphones. Unlike DECT phones or earlier voice on Wi-Fi phones, they allow more applications, he said.

UK prices have not yet been announced, but the phones are expensive compared to subsidised dual-mode phones, costing US$699 or US$749 for a semi-rugged phone in the US $2999 for a server that supports up to 4500 devices. However, they do not tie the company into any cellular voice and data charges, and are robust enough to last for several years, said Womeldorph: “The operating cost on this is zero.”

The phones have 128M of RAM which can be expanded using a micro SD card, and have other normal phone features such as Bluetooth. Introduced to the US in 2008, there are apparently around 50 installation using the phones.

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