CANNES, France (AP) - Sony Ericsson said Monday it will launch its first third-generation phone later in 2003, a move that could help make or break the joint venture.
Unveiled at 3GSM in Cannes, the Z1010 dual mode UMTS/GSM-GPRS phone features a pair of built-in video cameras so that its users can transmit live video while calling someone with another 3G phone.
Third-generation networks are expected to offer faster delivery of data and pictures than current networks, but operators across Europe have slowed the launch of 3G amid questions about demand for the new services and delays in the arrival of 3G phones.
UMTS, or Universal Mobile Telecommunications System, is an advanced form of wireless transmission that some carriers plan to adopt because it would let users send pictures, documents and more through their mobile phones
"We are showing this product now to support operators' commercial 3G launch programs and to inspire users and application developers with full 3G functionality support,'' said Jan Waereby, the head of sales and marketing for Sony Ericsson.
"2003 will be the year when the industry will have to focus heavily on interoperability and standardization.''
Sony Ericsson is the fifth larger maker of mobile phones in the world, behind Finland's Nokia, Motorola, Samsung Electronics and Siemens AG.
In September 2002, Nokia introduced the 6650, which has an integrated camera with video sending and playing features, and is compatible with existing GSM systems as well as future third generation UMTS networks.
The venture, Sony Ericsson, has steadily lost money since it was established 15 months ago, and Ericsson executives had indicated last year that they planned to put in more funding into it.
Stockholm-based Ericsson and Tokyo-based Sony said Jan. 29 they would each put in 150 million euros (US$162.3 million) during the current quarter.
Ericsson has received plaudits for the release of its first color-screen phone, the T68, which was launched in 2002, but it has been hampered by delays in new models and competition from Nokia.
In the United States, Sony Ericsson has lost market share to Motorola and Samsung.
But its new portfolio of phones, including the high-end P800, which features a built-in camera and personal digital assistant attributes, is helping the venture recover.
Also helping are its low-end models, like the T300.
Sony Ericsson said it sold 7.1 million handsets during the fourth quarter, giving it a market share of about 6 percent, up from 4.9 percent during the third quarter.
Separately, Sony Ericsson said it will start selling a wireless PC card for dual-GSM networks in the United States. Like other PMCIA cards, the GC82 Edge PC Card it will fit into most laptops.
The company also announced a strategic alliance with AT&T Wireless as that carrier rolls out its Edge services in the United States.
Edge is akin to 3G, which is expected to provide new capacity and support faster services. - AP