LG Fathom smartphone on sale for $150 starting Thursday

Phone described as good hardware on dying Windows Mobile OS

The LG Fathom smartphone, running on the soon-to-be-defunct Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system, goes on sale online Thursday and will be available in Verizon Wireless stores June 3.

Verizon announced today that the price of the phone would be $150 after rebate for customers who sign up for a two-year service plan with a $70 minimum monthly fee for voice and data service. However, Best Buy has already put the phone on sale for $100 in some locations with no rebate to users who sign up for two-year plans, according to MobileCrunch.

LG Fathom smartphone
Online sales of the LG Fathom smartphone will start Thursday with Verizon Wireless as the carrier.

Nobody is crying over the Windows Mobile operating system's demise, although MobileCrunch noted that the LG Fathom, with a 1-Ghz Snapdragon processor, a full touchscreen and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, "is a solid piece of hardware prematurely plagued to obsolescence by a dying operating system."

Microsoft Corp. decided to move away from Windows Mobile to a new operating system called Windows Phone 7 Series late last year, and it showed a prototype of a Windows Phone 7 device at the CTIA wireless industry trade show in March.

At the Mobile World Congress in February, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer described the Windows Phone 7 Series as a way for the software company to "take greater accountability for the end user experience."

LG and other manufacturers will introduce phones running the Windows Phone 7 Series operating system by year's end, with Verizon as the carrier, Microsoft said in February. Microsoft has already released a variant of the Windows Phone 7 Series operating system for two Kin phones that were released in early May.

The Kin phones might provide a preview of what Windows Phone 7 Series interfaces will look like, with a kind of checkerboard of live "tiles" in the interface that can be updated automatically with information from the phone or the Internet.

Last September, Ballmer admitted that Microsoft had "screwed up" with Windows Mobile and had decided to reorganize the team developing mobile technologies.

But it isn't clear, given Ballmer's criticism, why a Windows Mobile 6.5 device is just now making its way to market, or whether it will attract many buyers -- although it is cheaper than most smartphones. One explanation is that the production cycle for a new phone is more than a year, and LG and Verizon had begun working on the Fathom before Ballmer apparently gave up on Windows Mobile 6.5.

The slate blue LG Fathom has a 3.2-in. touchscreen and includes a microSD slot for up to 16GB of storage. It runs Windows Media Player 10 Mobile and has a video player that supports several formats. It has a one-touch speakerphone system and supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Verizon's CDMA network. It's capable of offering turn-by-turn directions if it's equipped with VZ Navigator, which comes separately.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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