Sony is to release a wireless-enabled, handheld device aimed at young people who use instant messaging (IM). The pocked-sized gadget, called the mylo, will sell for about $350 (Â£183), according to the Associated Press. It has a small display and keyboard and is pitched at the young, mainstream market who use IM and are interested in making net telephone calls. Sony has formed a partnership with Skype for net phone calls and with Yahoo and Google for instant messaging. The mylo, which stands for "my life online", will only be available in the United States.
The device will face competition from an increasing number of mobile phones that are incorporating wi-fi technology, as well as Microsoft's forthcoming Zune player and a slew of so-called ultra-portable PCs. Danielle Levitas, an industry analyst at market researcher IDC, told AP that the mylo was a "unique, compelling" product, but said it might fare better at a lower price of $299 (Â£165). Although wi-fi is spreading across colleges, coffee houses, airports and entire cities, Mr Levitas said the wireless technology was not yet ubiquitous enough to help Sony break mylo out of a niche market. "You need enough wi-fi out there to make this a compelling product to reach a wider audience," he said.
The device cannot be used for mobile telephone calls and as such there is no need for a monthly contract or subscription. The so-called personal communicator doubles as a portable media player. It can play music, and screen photos and videos that are stored on its internal one gigabyte of flash memory or optional Memory Stick cards.