With over 100 hardware and software vendors waiting in the wings to demonstrate their new Microsoft® Windows® Powered Pocket PC-based solutions, Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer took the stage at The Concourse to announce widespread retail availability of Pocket PC 2002-based devices. Simultaneous events in San Francisco and London drew together more than 1,000 Pocket PC hardware and software vendors, customers and fans excited about the new features and benefits delivered in Pocket PC 2002.
“Pocket PC 2002 makes a great mobile platform even better,” Ballmer said. “With a stylish new interface and exciting new features, Pocket PC 2002 offers users more ways to communicate with friends and co-workers and really makes the Pocket PC an essential business tool.”
Customers can choose from devices offered by the 22 hardware vendors that have announced support for Pocket PC 2002. Microsoft is pleased to announce that Acer Inc., Audiovox Corp., ETEN, Fujitsu, Inventec, Itautec, NEC USA Inc. and O2 (formerly BT Cellnet) will be using Microsoft Pocket PC software to power their upcoming lines of personal digital assistants. These companies join existing Pocket PC hardware manufacturers Casio Computer Company Ltd., Cesscomm, Compal Electronics Inc., Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Hi-Tech Wealth Electronic Product Co. Ltd., HTC, Intermec Technologies Corp., Legend, Mitsubishi Electronic Group, SAGEM, Siemens AG, Symbol Technologies Inc. and Toshiba Corp.
“This release represents a year of listening to customers, incorporating their feedback and innovation to make these devices essential for businesses and consumers alike,” said Ben Waldman, vice president of the Mobile Devices Division at Microsoft. “Prompted by the success of the Pocket PC platform, 22 hardware vendors have joined us in supporting Pocket PC 2002. It’s amazing to see the range of exciting and innovative devices these vendors are showing today.”
Support for the platform continues to increase every month. In addition to the independent software and hardware vendors attending the San Francisco and London launch events, more than 3,800 companies are now members of the Microsoft Mobile Solutions Partner Program. And developer interest in the platform continues to grow: At last count, more than 180,000 developers had received the Pocket PC software development kit.
“The Pocket PC economy is thriving,” said Laura Rippy, CEO of Handango Inc. “With a wealth of Pocket PC-based applications currently available from our software partners, we’ve seen exponential growth in this platform. In fact, we’ve seen an average growth rate of 90 percent quarter on quarter in our Pocket PC-based application sales since the fourth quarter of 2000.”
Companies that have tested the new devices are enthusiastic about the software enhancements and the potential that Pocket PC-based devices hold for increasing their business efficiency. Several high-profile Pocket PC customers joined Microsoft in support of the new devices, including Bruce Nelson, CEO of Office Depot, who joined Ballmer on stage to demonstrate and discuss his company’s Pocket PC 2002-based solution.
“Enhancing customer service and driving efficiency and productivity in our retail stores is a key priority at Office Depot. We believe mobile technology can help us deliver on that strategy,” said Nelson. “We’ve been testing mobile devices as part of the Pocket PC 2002 early adopters program, and we believe that by providing our management with a mobile time-management tool with access to real-time sales and product information such as this, we will not only enhance customer service but significantly increase our ability to enhance the shopping experience.”
Ballmer also demonstrated new technology for wirelessly enabling Pocket PC-based devices. With this release, Microsoft is extending its platform leadership by providing customers with an even greater range of wireless connectivity options, from local area networks (802.11b) and personal area networks (Bluetooth) to wide area networks (via CDPD, CDMA, GSM or through two-body solutions utilizing today’s operator networks). Microsoft is developing telephony software and working with industry partners to bring integrated wireless devices to market. In Europe, integrated wireless Pocket PCs are already available from Mitsubishi Electronic Group and SAGEM, and just today, O2 announced its intention to bring to market Pocket PC 2002-based integrated wireless devices.
Microsoft today also demonstrated new Server ActiveSync® technology that enables direct server synchronization of e-mail and calendar and contact information between Pocket PC 2002-based devices and Exchange 2000 Servers. Server ActiveSync will ship as a component of Microsoft Mobile Information 2002 Server and is designed to work over wireless or wired connections. With this release, ActiveSync also enables customers to sync both with their
desktop and their server, either via a cradle or remote connection, giving them more flexibility in ensuring that their device is always up to date.