PCD eyes Android, WinMo for new line of mobile computers

SAN DIEGO--Mobile phone supplier Personal Communications Devices announced today the formation of a new business unit focused on wireless devices beyond handsets, gadgets that likely will include netbooks, tablets and what Joseph Cufari calls "slates."

Cufari, the head of PCD's new Advanced Devices Division, was on hand at the CTIA IT & Entertainment show here to show off the operation's first device, a prototype netbook that will be available sometime in the fourth quarter of this year. Cufari said PCD's Advanced Devices Division plans to offer netbooks running Microsoft's Windows operating system this year, and next year plans touchscreen tablet devices running on either Google's Android operating system or Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform.

Cufari also said the company hopes to eventually offer what he called slates, or wireless touchscreen devices that sit between a full-sized Internet tablet and a smartphone. He said slates would sport screens of around five inches wide, and would allow users to surf the Internet and watch videos.

Based in Hauppauge, N.Y., with around 300 employees, privately held PCD essentially acts as glue between Asian electronics manufacturers and wireless carriers like AT&T Mobility, Sprint Nextel, Verizon Wireless and others. The company works to supply wireless devices to carriers, and generally stamps those devices with just the carrier's brand. Thus, PCD isn't a consumer-facing supplier, but rather a business-to-business operation for wireless carriers in North and South America.

PCD has traditionally focused on supplying feature phones and smartphones to carriers, and its new Advanced Devices Division represents the company's decision to expand from a handset focus and into the wider world of mobile computing. PCD's Cufari said the operation would look to a range of devices, from netbooks to ereaders.

"Where PCD fills a void ... is getting a product out to market," he explained. "Netbooks just happen to be the low-hanging fruit," and represent the start of the advanced devices effort.

Cufari, a longtime wireless industry veteran recently hired by PCD to head up the new division, declined to provide any specifics on the company's planned devices, including prices, commercial release dates and potential carrier partners. He said the Advanced Devices Division's gadgets are all in the prototype stage, and are being shopped to potential carrier customers.

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