CEBIT - Siemens unit seeks growth beyond phones

A new Siemens unit unveiled several new products, including cordless phones, Internet telephone devices and home entertainment systems.

Six months after being spun off into a subsidiary, Siemens Home and Office Communication Devices GmbH & Co. KG is seeking to position itself in the global market for cordless phones, Internet telephone devices and home entertainment systems.

On Thursday at the Cebit show in Hanover, Germany, the company rolled out around a dozen new products, including one in collaboration with Yahoo.

The Gigaset M34 USB (Universal Service Bus) adapter allows users to make and receive VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) calls through the Yahoo Messenger with Voice application, in addition to sending text messages. The adapter, a dongle that will be available in the third quarter, works with later model Gigaset cordless phones, Siemens said.

Last year, Siemens launched a similar dongle that uses the VoIP software from Skype Technologies SA, according to Lutz Neubauer, a senior vice president.

The Gigaset C450 IP targets home and small-business VoIP users, offering easy configuration without a computer. The device connects directly to routers and supports easy switching between VoIP and fixed-line telephony.

"VoIP technology has been around for years but even today, only a small percentage of people are really using it," said Martin Kinne, chief executive officer of Siemens Home and Office Communication Devices. "The problem is that VoIP systems have traditionally been difficult to install and use. Our focus is on simplicity."

As for other products, Siemens is billing its new Gigaset SL74X as the world's first cordless encryption phone. The phone uses a digital signal processor with the latest encryption standards. The combination of synchronous and asynchronous encryption and secure hash algorithms normally used only by banks and government authorities, ensures maximum security and a considerably accelerated encryption process, the company said.

For consumers or businesses seeking high-speed wireless access, Siemens offers the WiMax modem Gigaset SE461.

The Siemens subsidiary also unveiled two set-top boxes, among other home entertainment products.

Asked if the unit won't collide with Fujitsu Siemens Computer (Holding) BV, which is also moving into the home entertainment market, Neubauer said the two companies are trying to avoid any overlap and, instead, cash in on any possible synergies. "Fujitsu Siemens comes from the computer side, and we come from the access side," Neubauer said. "So don't expect us to offer a big flat screen monitor or anything like that."

Siemens, which last year sold its mobile phone manufacturing operations to Taiwan's BenQ, has no plans to put the newly created home and office communications unit on the block, according to Kinne. "There is absolutely no talk of selling this company or merging it with another," he said.

The subsidiary is the largest supplier of cordless phones, accounting for around 26 percent of the global market, and is also the world's largest supplier of DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) modems, according to Neubauer.

The company has sales of around US$1.2 billion, Kinne said.

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