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Alltel Installs Apple-Like Widgets on Cellphones

Technology Opens Door for Branded Icons on Handsets

By Published on .

SAN FRANCISCO (Adage.com) -- The iPhone hasn't launched yet but already other wireless companies are getting a jump on Apple's highly hyped mobile offering.
While Apple's iPhone is slated to cost $500 to $600, Alltel's Celltop technology can be had on a $49 handset.
While Apple's iPhone is slated to cost $500 to $600, Alltel's Celltop technology can be had on a $49 handset.

Alltel Wireless today said it has developed a proprietary technology called Celltop that will change the way its subscribers interact with their cellphone screens, making it easier to find sports scores, weather forecasts and other news updates. The innovation also aims to help users sort out text messages and voicemails.

The icons resemble those on the iPhone, which was unveiled at MacWorld earlier this month -- and may prove to be a new way for marketers to easily reach cell phone users.

Ten widgets pre-installed
"It's based on a widget concept similar to those on Apple" operating systems, said Scott Moody, director of multimedia content for Alltel, which has 11 million subscribers. Initially, 10 free "cells" -- or widgets -- will be pre-installed on Alltel phones, but as the technology is developed, marketers might have an opportunity to offer subscribers branded icons, Mr. Moody said. For example, Coke could offer a music widget with pop songs or Nike could offer one with sports history.

But whereas the Apple phone is slated to cost $500 to $600, the Alltel Celltop can be had on a $49 handset, Mr. Moody said. Celltop will be pre-installed free on one phone model initially but will be rolled out to all phones by the end of the year.
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