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September 16, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

JVC Americas Corp has introduced a handheld personal communication device capable of sending and receiving email messages without a computer. The HC-E1OO PocketMail is a device about the size of a personal digital assistant which can send email and faxes over almost any telephone connection, including fixed line, cellular or pay phones, without the use of any connectors, modems or other hardware. Users compose the message on the device, which has a standard keyboard, dial an 800 number and hold the device against the telephone handset while pushing a send button. JVC says it will have the HC-E100 in stores by mid- November for about $130. The device is based on technology from Pocket Science Inc, a private company funded by venture capitalists that began life in late 1995. The JVC deal was the first for the company but it also claims a deal with Sharp Corp, which will make a similar device available in December for about $150. Pocket Science runs the service that connects the device to the world at large. For $9.95 per month, users can send unlimited emails, while faxes will cost $0.25 per page. Users will be assigned a PocketMail address, but the service can also pull email from other accounts at ISPs or corporate servers, and forward them to the mobile address while still leaving copies of them on the user’s primary PC. The company is also looking to offer add-on services such as delivery of news and financial information to subscribers, at an incremental price. CEO Neil Peretz says there’s a host of possibilities for the service, including leveraging it for the Windows CE palmtop computer platform. For now, the company is looking to electronics manufacturers such as JVC and Sharp to put the service on the map and generate revenue for the company, which Peretz says has completed two-and-a-half rounds of funding. JVC and PocketScience say the service offers a value proposition through its ease of use, freedom from phone jacks or modems, and price for both the hardware and the service – which they claim are substantially less than wireless modems and two way pagers.

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