T-Mobile and HP said today that they'd start selling a new handheld that includes GSM, GPRS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth later this summer: There are some combined cellular/Wi-Fi PDAs being sold in Japan and probably one or two here too, but this will be one of the first major launches by an operator.
One of the more interesting aspects of this announcement is the type of pricing deal T-Mobile will introduce when the device becomes available. It will offer a plan that includes a bucket of voice minutes plus unlimited use of GPRS and Wi-Fi. The whole plan will cost under $100. Some of the cellular operators have been charging around $80 a month for unlimited cell data using data cards, though those prices have been dropping recently. Data plans on cell phones have been less expensive, but presumably users aren't downloading PowerPoint presentations on their cell phones, unless they are connecting to their laptops, which the operators frown upon. So while the $100 figure from T-Mobile seems like a good deal by comparison and because it includes voice, Wi-Fi, and cell data, it's still pretty steep when you compare it to what people pay for high-speed access in their homes. Users will likely expect to pay a premium for the benefit of using mobile data, but this might be too much of a premium.
While the analysts I spoke to seemed pretty excited about the idea of a device that includes cell data and Wi-Fi, I suspect that the audience for this device will be relatively small. The PDA market in general has been shrinking, and the market for this device will be a subset of the overall PDA market. Still, the analysts I talked to were bullish on future versions of such devices that allow more seamless roaming and voice over Wi-Fi to reach a far larger market.