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Sony Ericsson Unveils Phone Portfolio

In a step considered crucial to its success, Sony Ericsson Tuesday unveiled its first significant new portfolio of wireless devices as a unified company.

The wireless phone company was launched last autumn after both Sony and Ericsson saw their fortunes in the wireless phone marketplace wane. The new phones unveiled Tuesday represent the company's largest thrust as a unified company and are aimed at worldwide markets.

The phones are a victory for Symbian, which provides the underlying software platform, and for Java, which is built into the phones.

The P800, based on the Symbian OS version 7.0 and Java, includes a built-in camera and is aimed at GSM and next-generation GPRS wireless networks. It displays images on a 208 x 320 pixel color screen and can send the images as e-mail or in a Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) message to another phone. It also has built-in support for Bluetooth for use with Bluetooth headsets and to connect it to other Bluetooth-enabled devices.

Sony Ericsson added a neat trick: It can automatically show a color picture of the person who is calling. In addition, it has personal information management capabilities and its built-in browser supports Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), i-mode, HTML and XHTML. The company said the phone will be available in the third quarter of 2002.

At a time in which Palm, Symbian and Microsoft are slugging it out for the smart phone market, this is a significant victory for U.K.-based Symbian. Sony Ericsson is a shareholder in that company.

"Sony Ericsson is fully committed to Symbian OS for its smartphones," said Anil Raj, corporate executive vice president of Sony Ericsson.

Another multimedia-focused device is Sony Ericsson's T68i, which works with the company's CommuniCam MCA-20 snap-on digital camera. The phone, which will be available immediately in Europe and Asia for GPRS systems, is based on the company's existing T68 and, when used with the imaging device, enables images to be sent via wireless network and via MMS messages. As with the P800, images also can be stored on the device in a built-in photo album.

The Z700 is aimed at the youth market and works on GPRS networks. It also is a Java-based device with built-in Bluetooth. It comes with two Sony-branded games built-in as well as a built-in browser.

The company also added phones for the North American market. The T206 is aimed at CDMA-based networks and supports CDMA2000 1X networks. It will be available in the third quarter. In addition, the T61g is aimed at networks, such as that of AT&T Wireless, that are transitioning from TDMA to GSM and supports GPRS. It will be released later in the second quarter of this year.

The company's new T62u also supports TDMA and GSM technologies and is designed to work on both TDMA and GSM networks.

David Haskin is managing editor of allNetDevices.com.