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Sprint CEO: Integrated services are the future

By John K. Waters

Sprint chairman and CEO Gary Forsee wrapped up last week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) with a keynote that focused on products and services that provide "anywhere, anytime" integrated communication services.

"An integrated experience enables people to read e-mail, open attachments, and view a spreadsheet or other information at home, at the office, from the road, even from the beach or a Little League game," Forsee said. "From Sprint's perspective, the integrated experience is where the industry is going and, more importantly, where it needs to be."

The buzz phrase of his presentation was "useful innovation," which Forsee said was the principle guiding product and application development at Sprint.

"Sprint's goal with useful innovation is to transform customers' potential into performance and performance into power," Forsee said. "The power to connect, the power to share and the power to access the world."

In Forsee's view, the cell phone is evolving into what amounts to a computing platform that is changing the way people communicate and send data. In a dramatic example, Forsee brought a teenager to the stage who showed the crowd how he used his Sprint phone to foil an abduction attempt and help the police apprehend the suspect.

"When I speak about an integrated experience," Forsee said, "it means connecting people wherever they are. It means delivering voice and data across multiple platforms."

Sprint will soon begin providing its customers with a version of that integrated experience, Forsee said, through its new video mail phone service, which his company announced last month. The service allows customers to send 15 seconds of video directly from their phone and share to any e-mail address or PCS Video Phone. Forsee unveiled the PCS Vision Video Phone VM4050, by Toshiba, a device that provides users with the ability to take and send video and audio directly from their mobile phones on the enhanced Sprint PCS network.

"We helped create the camera-phone market in the United States," said Forsee. "Now we are doing the same with video mail phones with our partners Sanyo, Samsung and Toshiba."

Nearly 60 million camera phones were sold in the U.S. last year, he said, making it the fastest-growing consumer tech device in history. Users of Sprint PictureMail sent more than 66 million pictures via the enhanced PCS network, he added.

"Until now, DVD players have been the fastest-growing consumer tech device," Forsee said. "The camera phone went from a new to a nearly mature market in a fraction of the time that most products follow the same evolution."

Earlier in the week, Sprint launched its Game Lobby nationwide virtual mobile community for gamers. Sprint hopes to provide a means for gamers to meet, recommend games and challenge each other, Forsee said.

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