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Media phone buzz hits Computex

Posted: 04 Jun 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:processor? media phone? WiMAX? broadband?

ARC International is pushing media phones at this year's Computex, adding fuel to a heavily charged level of hype and excitement at one of the largest high-tech trade shows in Asia.

The Big Three driving 2009 Computex momentum are: a) Google's Android; b) a tsunami of new categories of "non-PC" products; and c) a roster of winners and losers among technology suppliersan industry that has finally broken free from the usual suspects dominating the PC market.

Practically every chip and IP vendor is jockeying for design wins in such devices as netbooks, smartbooks, media players, personal navigation devices and connected digital photo frames. ARC is adding to the list media phone, which the company calls "one of the hottest new devices for consumers."

The media phone is loosely defined as the next-generation cordless phone combined with broadband connectivity, allowing consumers direct access to media content and information services available on the Internet via a color touchscreen.

ARC is rolling out at Computex a new media software framework specifically optimized for such media phones.

ARC's platform consists of the company's SonicFocus audio enrichment software, codecs and a new audio subsystem, designed to enable ODMs and OEMs to quickly enter the media phone market, according to Karen Parnell, product marketing director at ARC.

What will become of media phones and how popular they may get on the consumer market are matters that are far from clear today.

In-stat, for example, predicts up to $8 billion revenue for both home and business media phones worldwide by 2013. Others remain cautious, offering no forecast.

In the United Kingdom, O2a cellular network operatorjust last month commercially launched OpenPeak's IP media phones based on Intel Corp.'s Atom processor. The same product was also launched by Verizon in the United States earlier this year.

With the IP media phone platform, consumers can access applications such as a family calendar, e-mail, text messaging or a synchronized address book when the media phone is connected to the home network via a built-in Wi-Fi/Ethernet link.

ARC's Parnell described such touchscreen-based terminals as "refrigerator magnets" for family messaging. As the product concept becomes popular, Parnell is convinced of a growing demand for media phones capable of "much better audio" for video playback, and "enhanced voice with wideband speech like quality."

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