Microsoft Gets One, Maybe Two New Smartphone Partners
By Carlo Longino, Wed Oct 08 16:45:00 GMT 2003

Net rumors had been swirling for a while that Microsoft would announce a major Smartphone partner today, and it turned out to be Canada's Sierra Wireless. Korean manufacturer LG also announced a Pocket PC Phone Edition device, fuelling more speculation they might release an MS Smartphone at next week's ITU Telecom World show in Geneva.

Sierra took the wraps off their Voq line of devices, aimed at business and professional users, with its most striking feature being a fold-out QWERTY keyboard. The first Voq handset is a GSM/GPRS model that features decent specs, but the initial focus will be on its design -- at first glance it looks bulky, and it remains to be seen just how easily and well the novel keyboard will work.

Some quarters expected LG to be named today, but they announced a Pocket PC Phone Edition device that also incorporates a keyboard via a PDA's take on the Siemens SL55 sliding design (Gizmodo's got a photo), and also has a 1.1-megapixel camera and can record an hour of video.

I've gotta say I was a little disappointed with the Sierra announcement. Though Sierra has been successful in selling wireless-data PC card, I was hoping for something a little more exciting. I really think Microsoft's going to have to attract a top-brand handset manufacturer and help them deliver a well-designed, cool device, with a good mix of features to get mass market traction. I don't think Microsoft will see their mobile "manifest destiny" come true with devices from brands average consumers don't recognize.