FrontRunners: Write On

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Despite the immediate success of the 6108, the world’s only mobile phone with handwriting recognition, which debuted in Asia earlier this year, Nokia (www.nokia-asia.com) maintains that it does not intend to release the phone in North America or Europe. These plans may change, however, once Western travelers discover what they are missing. With the 6108, users can jot messages with a stylus instead of laboriously typing text messages on the phone’s keypad. This is a particularly useful feature in markets such as China, where the language’s thousands of characters make it next to impossible to compose a message on cell phone keys.

Although the 6108 is not for sale in the United States, an English-speaking owner could use one here. Because the phone is tri-band, it operates on cell phone frequencies worldwide, and the handwriting recognition feature, which reads English as well Chinese characters, would be operable, Nokia says, for people who subscribe to a network capable of multimedia messaging service, or MMS.

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