Siemens launches mobile and fixed MMS phones

Multimedia services aren't the exclusive domain of mobile phones, Siemens said at the Cebit trade show on Wednesday. As well as a range of new mobile phones, the company also launched a fixed-line phone with a built-in camera, MMS (multimedia services) capabilities, and an adaptor to give its cordless fixed-line phones easy access to VoIP (Voice over IP).

The mobile phone market is in a new growth phase and is likely to grow 10 percent in the next year, said Rudi Lamprecht, a member of Siemens' managing board. This year will also see the shift from a voice-driven market to one focused on services, he said.

The number of MMS-enabled phones on the market will rise from 25 percent to 50 percent, and all of the 30 phones that Siemens plans to launch will include MMS capabilities, Lamprecht said.

Siemens announced three new mobile phones, including a rugged phone that can survive any weather, it said, and showed an upgraded version of an older model incorporating push-to-talk, walkie-talkie style technology.

The M65 is the "outdoor" phone, which can handle extremes of temperature, water and dust, and can stand up to rough treatment, as Thorsten Heins, president of the Munich company's mobile phone division, demonstrated by throwing it around the room. The handset also includes a built-in bicycle computer that gives speeds and distances covered when attacked to a bike's handlebars.

The C65 is Siemens attempt to bring MMS to the lower end of the market, with an integrated camera and color screen, Heins said. Siemens is particularly strong in the low end of the market and in emerging markets, Lamprecht said.

The third new phone, the S65, is a stylish multimedia phone with a 1.3-megapixel integrated video and still camera, and four-step digital zoom. The video records at 15 frames per second, Heins said. The phone also includes Bluetooth connectivity and a 32M bit exchangeable memory card, Siemens said.

Siemens is also demonstrating a new version of its CX65 handset at Cebit, with push-to-talk technology incorporated. The company is currently running eight trial push-to-talk networks worldwide, it said.

On the fixed side, the company showed the SL740 phone which includes a camera and features the ability to record and send sound files. The phone marks the start of a new range of fixed-line devices, it said.

The convergence of services between mobile and fixed is also the inspiration behind the Gigaset M34 USB PC adapter, which lets Siemens' Gigaset cordless phones easily access VoIP telephony, Clemens Joos, president of the cordless products division said. Siemens will work in partnership with peer-to-peer telephony company Skype Technologies (a company that was set up by the developers of the Kazaa peer-to-peer download service) to provide VoIP calls in Europe from September.

Adding a note of the futuristic, Jose Costa e Silva, president of Siemens' wireless modules division, said it is important to remember that humans aren't the only users of mobile services. There are currently 5 million machines connected via wireless modules, and that number could grow as high at 50 billion, he said.

The machines markets include freight and route planning, security, vending machines and medical applications, he said. In order to service that sector, the company is launching a new embedded module from Siemens, the XT55, that allows GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), GPRS (General Packet Radio Service)and GPS (Global Positioning System) connectivity in one product, Costa e Silva said.

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