When is a cellphone a computer? Ask Silicon Valley-based Phone.com, Inc. (formerly Unwired Planet). It has just licensed its Phone.com UP.Browser--a so-called microbrowser--to Hitachi, Ltd. of Japan. Under the terms of the accord, Hitachi's microbrowser license will enable it to offer Internet and data features in its cellphone designs.
The first product shipped under this global agreement is the Hitachi C201H phone for the Japanese CDMA market. "Japan is a strategic market for Phone.com and our relationship with Hitachi enables us to leverage each other's presence worldwide," notes Ben Linder, vice president of marketing for Phone.com.
A WAP Compatible Featherweight
For its part, this is Hitachi's first Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) compatible CDMA handset. The less than three-ounce C201H cellphone features Japanese text-input and supports both Internet and data functions. Phone.com's UP.Browser software is a WAP-compatible microbrowser residing in a phone's ROM or flash. It enables server-based applications, letting cellphone users access the Web, e-mail and corporate intranet applications.
Hitachi now joins a growing list of more than 20 wireless phone manufacturers in North America, Europe, Korea and Japan with a license to the UP.Browser. The list already includes the likes of Qualcomm, Sony, Alcatel, LG Information and Communications, Panasonic, Mitsubishi, Sagem, Samsung, and Siemens. The UP.Browser is currently being ported to over 30 cellphone models for CDMA, GSM, PDC, PHS and TDMA digital standards.
These Phone.com equipped designs provide end-users with news, stock market quotes, weather, travel and sports data. In addition, subscribers have access via wireless telephones to network operators' intranet-based telephony services, which may include over-the-air activation, call management, billing history information, pricing plan subscription and voice message management.