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AT&T To Roll Out Smartphone-Type Apps for Messaging Phones

AT&T Inc. says its fastest-growing wireless device category these days is quick-messaging devices, not smartphones. And it’s adding more advanced, cloud-based features to the midrange suite, blurring the lines between handset types.

AT&T defines the QMD category for the industry as a portfolio of wireless handsets that have a messaging-friendly full QWERTY keyboard and other advanced features, but at an affordable midrange price. A spokesperson noted that AT&T anticipated the rise of messaging and consumer demand for lower-cost QWERTY devices, so it positioned itself with eight devices in the portfolio.

On Monday AT&T announced that four soon-to-be-released QMDs, the Samsung Strive and Sunburst, and the Pantech Link and Pursuit, will be among the first to offer a new suite of services from AT&T.

These wireless apps/services will premiere first on the Samsung Strive and include:

  • AT&T Address Book – The free AT&T Address Book auto-syncs contacts to an online address book so they’re accessible from computer as well as handset. It also lets users import outside Web-based address books.
  • Group Messaging – Designed by AT&T, this brings “reply all” functionality for up to 10 contacts, a threaded conversation format previously available primarily to smartphone customers, a consolidated inbox and multimedia display enhancements to the text messaging experience. Standard messaging rates apply.
  • AT&T Mobile Share – Helps customers quickly transfer photos and videos captured on their mobile phone to other destination, so their content isn’t “stuck” on the handset, and then manage that content across the mobile and PC screens. Customers can share videos and pictures in full resolution up to 10 MB with their home computer, social networking sites, other people and a personal Internet-based AT&T storage locker. AT&T Mobile Share is available for $10 per month for 50 media transfers; customers can also pay per use, at $.35 per transfer. The service includes online storage of 250MB at no charge. Customers can purchase an additional 10GB of storage for $5 per month. Standard data charges apply for browsing the online media locker from the mobile handset.

“Quick Messaging Devices are very important for us – it’s a category that we defined for the industry and that we continue to lead in value, quality and innovation,” said David Christopher, chief marketing officer of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. “Quick Messaging Devices are among our most popular and fastest-growing phones. They offer great value – and now will offer cutting-edge services that enhance the overall experience consumers have with these phones.

“The evolution of the mobile phone experience – increasingly sophisticated hardware and software, including apps – has been advancing rapidly due to the proliferation of smartphones in recent years. At AT&T, we’re ensuring a similar rich, ever-evolving experience exists for the sizeable number of our customers who use Quick Messaging Devices.”

The new quick messaging phones lineup for spring 2010 includes:

  • Samsung Strive will be available on March 21 in two color combinations, black/silver and purple/charcoal. Strive features a 2.0-megapixel camera and a vertical slide design to reveal a full keyboard for tapping out info on Mobile Email, instant messaging and social networking apps like AT&T Social Net with ease. The Strive will be available for $19.99 for a limited time with a two-year agreement and after $50 mail-in rebate, as part of AT&T’s current 50 percent-off quick messaging phones promotion.
  • Samsung Sunburst offers a touchscreen, and is GPS-enabled, with a curvy exterior and light accent below the screen. A widget bar feature allows one-touch access to a wealth of phone functions like creating a text message, in addition to direct links to social networking sites. Sunburst will also be available on March 21 for $39.99 after a two-year agreement and $50 mail-in-rebate.
  • Pantech Link is an ultra-slim and light, full keyboard quick-messaging phone in the popular, bar-style family of handsets. With black and blue accents, Link provides direct access to Mobile Email, instant messaging, AT&T Mobile Share, AT&T Social Net, AT&T Navigator and more. Link will be available in AT&T stores and online in the coming weeks.
  • Pantech Pursuit has a full touch screen with a vertical sliding keyboard. Shortcuts on Pantech’s first touch user interface offer easy, customizable access to apps and features like AT&T Social Net, AT&T Address Book and social networking sites. Available in the summer in green or blue, the Pursuit will also support face recognition software and geotagging for pictures.

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