Weekly Wrap: More (or Less) Moto, and Gadgetry Galore
By Carlo Longino, Fri Oct 10 09:00:00 GMT 2003

Motorola decides to shed its chip business, Microsoft unleashes some new handsets, Nokia N-Gages and more...


Motorola CEO Chris Galvin said he had some strategic differences with the company's board when he resigned several weeks ago, but they appear to now agree on one thing -- they want to get out of the chip business. The company said this week it would spin off its semiconductor unit, its second biggest and responsible for about 20 percent of its sales, to concentrate on wireless and telecom gear. While investors cheered the move, it remains to be seen if the company can survive should Motorola, its biggest customer, decide to buy chips elsewhere after the spin-off.

Microsoft's Smartphone OS continued to gather steam this week, with the announcement of a new handset partner and new devices. Sierra Wireless was the "major" partner announced this week, and it unveiled the Voq handset, aimed squarely at business users and sporting a unique fold-out keyboard. Microsoft also took the wraps off the latest version of its SPV handset, this time including both Bluetooth and a camera, answering probably the most common criticism of Smartphone devices. Eric got a chance to play with these devices as well as the recently release Motorola MPX-200.

Nokia launched the almost universally derided N-Gage mobile gaming deck this week, although most reviews had already pronounced it dead. But are these critics missing the point, we wonder? It brings mobile multi-player gaming to the masses, something several readers commented that its software must take advantage of for it to succeed.

Siemens had some handset news of their own this week: the company's device sales were up 44 percent from last quarter, driven by strong sales of several new models. Siemens also announced their second 3G handset, the U15.

The Yankee Group released a report this week saying that there are now more mobile phones than landlines in Europe, though the number of calls originating on landlines still account for 60%-80% of calls on the continent. Not sure what the significance of that really is, but they're using it as a vehicle to make some recommendations to wireless carriers.

Spending a little too much time text-messaging or know someone who does? Maybe they're right for a British rehab clinic's program for SMS addiction.

And a caveat to people using Bluetooth to look at pictures on their TV sets: change those default passwords. A Helsinki-area family found their vacation snaps had taken over a neighbor's television, as both had Nokia Mediamaster boxes using the default password.

Elsewhere on the site this week: a look at the future of camera phone art, and while the eyes of the world were watching Arnold Schwarzenegger run for governor, Howard Rheingold looks at SMS and elections.