updated 9/15/2004 8:13:29 PM ET 2004-09-16T00:13:29

In a detour from the cellular industry's rush toward tricked out smart phones, AT&T Wireless Services Inc. may introduce a device that can't be used for voice calls. Instead, it's designed specifically for e-mail, short text messages and other forms of wireless chat.

Plans for the "ogo," a clamshell gadget with a full keyboard for thumb typing, were revealed in filings with the Federal Communications Commission by the manufacturer, Chi Mei Communication Systems Inc. of Taiwan. The device is also equipped with Bluetooth technology for short-range wireless connections with other devices.

The FCC filings included a copy of a user manual featuring the AT&T Wireless brand. The cell phone company, due to be acquired by Cingular Wireless later this year, declined to comment.

Aside from the BlackBerry and Goodlink e-mail devices carried by legions of white collar professionals, no other messaging-only devices are available from major wireless carriers in the United States.

The last real competitors for the BlackBerry, made by from Research In Motion Ltd., and the Goodlink, from Good Technology Inc., were the Timeport and Talkabout keyboard devices, both of which Motorola Corp. stopped making more than two years ago.

While there are other wireless handhelds with keyboards -- led by the Treo 600 from palmOne Inc. and the T-Mobile Sidekick made by Danger Inc. -- they are designed to double as cell phones, as well as personal organizers, Web browsers, cameras, MP3 music players, video game players and even portable TVs.

Despite its popularity as an e-mail-only device, even the BlackBerry is now being offered with phone and other capabilities.

That's because many people don't like to carry around multiple devices, so the market for all-in-one cell phones is expected to flourish in the coming years.

In 2004, smart phones are expected to account for less than 3 percent of all wireless handsets shipped, or about 17.6 million of an estimated 650 million, according to research firm IDC. The number is expected to nearly double next year to about 30 million, or 4.3 percent of an estimated 700 million shipments.

Still, some users complain that devices crammed with so many features fail to perform any one of those functions nearly as well as a single-purpose device such as a basic cell phone, handheld computer, BlackBerry, digital camera, MP3 player, or portable video game player.

Because the ogo is equipped with Bluetooth, it could potentially serve as a communications hub for several single-purpose devices. With a digital camera, for example, it could download photos to send as an e-mail attachment.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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