Research Notes

New announcements from Symbian will put Symbian inside 40% of mobile phones in 2004

Carl Williams, Strand Consult

Tuesday 18th February
GSM World Congress 2003, Cannes
On the first day of the actual GSM World Congress exhibition, visitors flocked around the fully working 3G colour video handsets on various stands, to try video conferencing on a mobile phone for themselves, while industry leaders continued with their announcements of new products and partnership agreements at today’s conference.

Katsumi Ihara, President of SonyEricsson kicked off today’s conference by announcing SonyEricsson’s first 3G handset – the Z1010. While maybe not making it as a fashion statement, the SonyEricsson Z1010 runs on both GSM and UMTS and as something new from SonyEricsson, features a clamshell design! The clamshell design is very popular in Japan and South Korea and also the most popular handset on Vodafone Live and it does make one wonder whether – over time – the clamshell design will show itself to be the best design for mobile phones? The Z1010 should be shipping in the second half of 2003.

Other news from SonyEricsson was that they would be focusing on ease of use for their customers and asked mobile operators to speed up their interoperability rollout, so mobile customers could start using for example MMS across networks and when roaming. The well-received SonyEricsson P800 now supports AppForge, opening up for the many applications for Palm Pilots to be able to run on the P800. SonyEricsson have also signed up on Nokia’s Series 60 platform, joining the other four manufactures mentioned in yesterday’s newsletter – and again making it easier for developers to create services for different makes of mobile phones.

Symbian’s CEO David Levin followed Ihara, by announcing that mobile terminal manufacturer Samsung has joined as shareholder of Symbian, buying 5% stock from the other shareholders and thereby taking some of the excitement out of yesterday’s announcement about Samsungs first Mobile Windows mobile phone.
Last year alone there were over 2 million mobile phones shipped, running the Symbian operating system. These phones came from three different manufactures, manufacturing 13 different models running Symbian. With 22 new mobile terminals in development, from 8 manufactures, Symbian will be the operating system for a huge percentage of the high-end and medium range mobile phones in the coming years – aiming at 35% to 40% of the total shipped mobile phones in 2004.

As Microsoft primarily are helping mobile operators offer customers their own brand Windows powered Smart Phones, Samsungs sign-up with Symbian will probably not effect Microsoft’s mobile strategy and Samsung are not the only manufacturer who will be riding both horses and thereby be able to offer customers the choice of operating systems on their mobile devices.

Siemens mobile have plans on becoming the first choice in designer mobile phones! Having had experts analysing the mobile users, Siemens has decided that there will be a market for mobile phones that are design statements and look more like a fashion accessory, rather than a mobile phone. This is an interesting theory, made even more interesting by the fact that a) Siemens is not really renown in the fashion industry as a brand name and b) these mobile phones will only feature voice and SMS!

While Siemens might be able to make mobile consumers think of Siemens as a fashion brand over time, if the consumers like the new designs, the fact that these new phones apparently have no 2.5G capabilities, but cost between 200 and 400 Euro should start the alarm bells ringing for the mobile operators. At a time when mobile users should be upgrading to 2.5G mobile phones, it is not in the best interest of the mobile operators that customers buy a quite expensive 2G designer phone on a 6 or 12 month contract – ensuring that these customers will not be generating any data traffic for a good while to come – unless they multiple mobile phones. Siemens however do not see this to be a problem, stating that they believe that there will be great number of mobile users who will neither need nor demand mobile services on their mobile phone.

At the exhibition it is the colour screens and cameras that are stealing the show. Downloadable Java games are looking really good on the mobile phones and are pretty advanced compared to the very simple games that have been running on the 2G mobile phones. There are many camera-phones and a number of 3G demos showing live video conferencing between 2 mobile phones.

If you are one of those people who think being able to see each other while speaking on the phone is not such a good idea, if you are looking sleepy – or have not put your makeup on, you shouldn’t worry too much – the quality of the live picture even over 3G is not that good, so while you can see who you are talking to, you cant really see much detail in the picture.

We will have more about the exhibition and new mobile phones in the next newsletter.
Strand Consult 3GSM website

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