@ CTIA — Kyocera Gets My Best Product Award

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CTIA was pretty quiet in terms of product annoucements, with most of them front-loaded at the beginning of the year at shows like CES, 3GSM and the Spring CTIA show. But Kyocera was showing off a new product that was very, very cool nonetheless, its KR1 EV-DO Router. It’s pretty straightforward: you take an EV-DO card and plug it in, or connect and EV-DO handset via USB, then share a single connection out over Wi-Fi or its 4 Ethernet ports.

This certainly isn’t the first product of this type, but there’s one major difference — its price. While its most popular competitor goes for $500-$700, the KR1 will cost closer to $200, without the EV-DO card.

There’s another interesting facet to the story, though, too: while some European carriers have started selling similar products for UMTS networks, US carriers have thus far put an emphasis on getting their equipment built into laptops, which lets them control the hardware like they control handsets and try to prevent multiple users from sharing a single data subscription. Kyocera apparently approached one of its carrier customers with the device, and the carrier responded that they’d love to sell it — if they integrated the EV-DO card into it. Kyocera balked at this, presumably understanding it would undermine what could be sizeable retail sales, and said no. (It’s not hard to guess which US CDMA carrier with EV-DO that was.)

So the KR1 will be available in retail stores — and from a second-tier US carrier that’s looking to grab more of the enterprise market. Nice one.

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