Modem maker Sierra Wireless set its sights on the nascent smartphone market with the release in 2003 of the Voq, a GPRS/GSM smartphone that ran Microsoft's Smartphone 2003 operating system. The gadget's claim to fame was a unique, flip-open keyboard--a function clearly intended to set the device apart from competing products but also an element critics said would be prone to breaking.
The Voq was an attempt by Sierra to expand its business from the relatively abstruse world of embedded modules and wireless modems and into the flashy world of consumer electronics. The Voq was targeted directly at business users seeking mobile access to corporate information.
However, Sierra found the smartphone market required far more than simply a folding keyboard. The company was unable to get any U.S. wireless carriers to sell the gadget, and the Voq languished in relatively obscure direct sales channels. Just a year and a half after announcing the device, Sierra said it would close down the operation and return to its roots as a module supplier.
At the time of its shutdown, Sierra said its Voq business totaled about $15 million. The company said 55 people worked on the phone directly, and that most of those workers would be laid off. Sierra eventually reported that the restructuring and cancellation of its Voq initiative cost the company around $19.2 million.