Weekly Wrap: Wi-Fi-ghting
By Carlo Longino, Fri Sep 19 10:00:00 GMT 2003

Wi-Fi chips-a-plenty, Microsoft and Motorola release first major-label smartphone, and more...


Intel held its Developers Forum this week, so chips were bound to dominate the news, though several of the company's competitors tried to steal its thunder by making some announcements of their own. Wi-Fi chipmaker Atheros announced new technology that it says can extend the range of current products, while Texas Instruments unveiled an 802.11/a/b/g chip for mobiles, and said Motorola would user the chip in a forthcoming device.

Intel grabbed some momentum back later in the week, taking the wraps off its latest generation of its Centrino set, and also the "Bulverde" next-generation XScale mobile processor. An Intel exec also dissed some of its competitors' news, complaining that they're undermining the 802.11 standards.

All of this coming as 802.11 continues to soar.

The Wintel cartel dominated the headlines this week, with Microsoft also making waves when Motorola finally officially released the Microsoft Smartphone-powered MPx200 handset, the first phone from a major manufacturer to feature the OS. The two companies also said they'd work together to develop more devices, as well as "develop a richer wireless experience for mobile professionals." How sweet.

But Handspring may have a good laugh at M&M's expense, as its Treo 600 -- which is building buzz as the best smartphone-PDA hybrid yet released -- launched this week on Orange. It should be interesting to see the sales figures for the Treo 600 against the MPx200, as Orange will be selling both the devices.

Orange also said this week it had chosen Nortel, Alcatel, and Nokia to supply it with 3G network gear for its European networks. Rumors swirled that Nortel had won another huge deal to follow one with Verizon Wireless a few weeks back, and it appeared to come at the expense of Ericsson, whose previous 3G deal with Orange expires at the end of the year (along with Nokia and Alcatel), wasn't renewed.

We reported last week on the battle i-mode is fighting with Vodafone Live! in Europe, and signs emerged this week that DoCoMo is having some trouble mustering their forces in the UK. The Financial Times reported that UK carrier 3 (which is 20% owned by DoCoMo) may not been keen on i-mode, and DoCoMo will seek another UK carrier for it.

Elsewhere on the site this week, contributors Douglas Rushkoff and Howard Rheingold posted a couple of fascinating (and popular) articles on some social aspects of our emerging mobile lives: Rushkoff contends that contact, not content, will drive the wireless world, while Rheingold talks about how mobile devices are shaping the world's cities.