A fresh face in the wireless product space, Carrier Device Limited (CDL) has taken its first steps into the Australian market by announcing the release of its Qtek 1010 combination PDA/mobile phone device.
Built on Microsoft's new Pocket PC 2002 operating software platform, the Qtek 1010 is a combination GSM/GPRS mobile device which delivers content using XML at speeds of 56Kbps.
As well as integrated pocket PC/mobile phone functionality, the device comes with 32 or 64MB of RAM, 32MB ROM, Secure Digital (SD) and MultiMediaCard (MMC) expansion support.
The Qtek brand is the brainchild of CDL senior vice-president and head of technology Jim Morrison, who originally headed up a strategic "think tank" within British Telecom (BT). Morrison said his original brief was to come up with a device for BT internally, which would differentiate the carrier from both its competitors and overseas subsidiaries.
The Qtek device took two and a half years to create. By this time, BT had "self-destructed" in the mobile market, Morrison said, and CDL had become a company in its own right.
As well as support for SSL 128-bit encryption, and a mobile SIM card, the Qtek features a unique CD lock and identifier. Designed by Microsoft and built into the chipset, this identifier can be programmed remotely by the administrator, and used to destroy the internal memory of the device if it is lost or stolen.
"We can even tell it to cry help, I'm lost' if we wanted to," he said.
The Qtek device will be available through Vodafone within the next month, with a recommended retail price of $1699. Vodafone offers three consumer GPRS plans, ranging from $14.95 per month including 1MB, up to $69.95 with 10MB included. Business plans are also available, ranging from $9.95 to $69.95 per month, and including up to 12MB. Additional data is charged at between 1.1 to 1.8 cents per KB. User who opt to pay as they go will be charged 2 cents per KB. Charges are billed in 25KB increments.
The highlight of the new device is the range of services it can support. According to Morrison, US carriers retailing the Qtek device have already established relationships with florists, theatre and movie ticket sellers and hotels through the Qtek CD Shop platform. In the UK, British Airways have established a similar service for their executive club members.
Morrison said CDL will provide the platform and support for these services through CDL's Carrier Device and Services (CDS) subsidiary, and plans to establish a CDS call centre in Sydney.
Vodafone is also expected to launch a range of services to coincide with the official release of the Qtek device, including a wireless e-mail solution. The e-mail service will be available to users as either a mass market offering, including access to free e-mail services customised for handheld devices (such as Hotmail, Messenger and Yahoo), a real-time access service for business users to their Inbox, calendar and contacts, or a combination of both. Pricing details for the e-mail service will be announced later this week.
Morrison said CDL is also in the process of settling an agreement with Optus to stock the Qtek 1010 device, as well as an agreement with Telstra to use the earlier version of the product.
CDL also expects to launch several additional combination devices into the Australian market, including a wireless device based on Microsoft's "Stinger" technology in early 2003.
Hyped up when it was officially announced in 2001, Microsoft's Stinger smartphone solution has yet to make an appearance in Australia. The Stinger software is based on Windows CE version 3 operating system and is designed as a standardised platform for carriers to develop their own offerings using existing software development tools.
Morrison said the delays experienced by Microsoft's in launching the platform are due to the software giant trying to do too much with "too little resources".
"Integrating an operating system into a phone is complex," he said. "Problems then came from moving the service not only across GPRS, but also CDMA."