New Bluetooth Headset Among First to Market

A Nashua, New Hampshire, company has beaten mobile phone heavyweights Nokia Corp. and L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co. to the Bluetooth punch. GN Netcom Inc. has announced one of the first officially qualified Bluetooth devices, its GN 9000 Bluetooth wireless headset.

Bluetooth is a wireless communications standard designed to ensure interoperability between wireless devices such as cellular phones, computers and PDAs (personal digital assistants). The Bluetooth Special Interest Group, the body charged with developing the standard, is made up of more than 100 companies, including Nokia, Ericsson, 3Com Inc., IBM Corp. and Lucent Technologies Inc.

Releasing the one of the first Bluetooth devices is a "milestone" both for GN Netcom and for the Bluetooth technology, according to Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek, the director of marketing communications at GN Netcom.

The product underwent the extensive testing required by the Bluetooth Qualification Body to ensure interoperability with the standard, Boockoff-Bajdek said. This is a crucial step, because "the success of Bluetooth as a standard hinges on interoperability," she said.

The headset will require a Bluetooth host device-- either the base station, which GN Netcom sells, or a Bluetooth card for a PC or PDA -- to operate. When such a device is present, the GN 9000 Bluetooth headset will offer users a mobile range of up to 30 feet (900 centimeters). The device will ship by the end of this month, according to Paul Mahoney, the director of product marketing at GN Netcom. The headset will retail for US$299, and a package including the base station and headset will cost $499.

Though the price tag may cause some consumers to shy away, the cost must be put into context, Mahoney said. The idea of Bluetooth "is to allow (the consumer) to use a single device instead of six or seven," he said, adding that $299 for a single product is not expensive compared to buying multiple items for multiple devices.

GN Netcom expects that the GN 9000 Bluetooth headset will sell well initially among early adopters and Bluetooth member companies. However, Mahoney said the company intends to market the headset to owners of PDAs, PCs and mobile phones, because the product is ideal for "anybody who wants the freedom to go wireless and doesn't want to buy multiple devices."

GN Netcom Inc, in Nashua, New Hampshire, can be reached at The Bluetooth Special Interest Group is located online at

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