RIM, VoiceStream to unveil voice/data device

Waterloo, Ont.-based Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM), a mobile communications provider, will offer high-speed data and voice capabilities in its handheld devices by the end of the first quarter of 2002, thanks to an agreement with VoiceStream Wireless Corp., a GSM/GPRS wireless carrier based in Bellvue, Wash.

RIM, best known for its corporate handheld devices, also plans to upgrade its products with a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) in order to open up its products to a larger development community and leverage the 6.3 million VoiceStream subscribers.

Building on a wireless deal made earlier in the year with RIM, VoiceStream will now offer its customers the new RIM devices with iStream – a nationwide, U.S. GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) service that gives users wireless data speeds in the 40Kbps to 50Kbps range, according to a VoiceStream spokesperson.

Users will be able to cable their RIM device to a notebook and use it as a wireless modem, the companies said. The devices will look similar to the current units but will feature a headset that users can plug in at the top for voice calls.

At press time, RIM was unable to officially comment on the deal.

Warren Chaisatien, an analyst with IDC Canada in Toronto, said the agreement reflects the future prospects of corporate wireless enablement. He noted that companies such as RIM, Compaq Computer Corp, and Palm Inc. will be actively targeting the Canadian corporate market.

“Apart from the personal management applications that are commonplace, corporate users are now looking for more complex applications and that include, for example, CRM and ERP. That is lot a data to dig into, especially if you are a mobile worker. So I think that the demand is there,” Chaisatien said.

So far the hurdles to such rollouts have been back-end application readiness, and lack of speed and security, Chaisatien added.

“Unless the security concerns have been sufficiently addressed, these type of applications are not going to grow as fast as we’d like…(but) we can expect the same kind of agreement to happen in Canada very soon.”

– with files from IDG News Service

Research In Motion Ltd. in Waterloo, Ont. is at http://www.rim.net

VoiceStream Wireless Corp. in Bellvue, Wash. is at http://www.voicestream.com