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iDEN Lets Its Hair Down

Motorola Intros new new devices for enterprise types that like to party

Dan Jones

November 10, 2006

1 Min Read
iDEN Lets Its Hair Down

Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) can't be accused of letting their propritary iDEN service go quietly into the cellular night. The pair have just launched the i880 -- a push-to-talk (PTT) phone with modern smartphone features -- that runs over the supposedly outmoded Nextel network.

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

About the Author(s)

Dan Jones

Mobile Editor

Dan is to hats what Will.I.Am is to ridiculous eyewear. Fedora, trilby, tam-o-shanter -- all have graced the Jones pate during his career as the go-to purveyor of mobile essentials.

But hey, Dan is so much more than 4G maps and state-of-the-art headgear. Before joining the Light Reading team in 2002 he was an award-winning cult hit on Broadway (with four 'Toni' awards, two 'Emma' gongs and a 'Brian' to his name) with his one-man show, "Dan Sings the Show Tunes."

His perfectly crafted blogs, falling under the "Jonestown" banner, have been compared to the works of Chekhov. But only by Dan.

He lives in Brooklyn with cats.

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