iDEN Lets Its Hair Down
The $300 i880 combines a 2 megapixel camera and MP3 capabilities with the nationwide walkie-talkie PTT features beloved of enterprises and blue-collar workers. The phone also incorporates GPS tracking and support for Java applications in its sleek Magenta flip-top exterior.
It may seem odd that Motorola and Sprint are introducing a new device to keep pace with features offered by devices that run on much faster CDMA- and GSM-based 3G networks. There is one good reason for the updates, however: The pair still make plenty of revenue from the hardcore business customers that continue to rely on the superior push-to-talk capabilities offered on iDEN.
Both Motorola and Sprint saw disappointing third-quarter earnings, partly caused by iDEN issues. Losing iDEN subscribers is particularly bad news for Sprint because Nextel's customers have traditionally been some of the most high-spending users in the U.S. market. (See Sprint Nextel Struggles Continue and Motorola's Mixed Bag.)
Hence the new phone, which is the cellular equivalent of the business mullet -- "business up front, party in the back."
Many users, however, are looking forward to dual-mode CDMA/iDEN devices from Motorola, expected to appear before the end of the year. These will offer calls and downloads over the faster CDMA network but support push-to-talk over iDEN. (See Sprint Pushes Dualmode Talk Button.)
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung