Three Is a Magic Number
By Carlo Longino, Fri Feb 07 11:45:00 GMT 2003

Hutchison announces 3G pricing, Microsoft legal action, and more...


First off, from the "Finally" Department, Hutchison 3G UK, going under the fantastically succinct brand name "3" said this week that it would begin selling 3G services on its Web site on February 22. Plans start at about GBP 60 per month, which includes 1000 voice minutes, 100 "video call minutes", a number of text, video, and picture messages, and free access to a number of data services through June. This and their other plans are very competitively priced, but what remains to be seen is if their network can deliver the quality of service that the high-spending users they hope to attract will demand.

mmO2 and T-mobile tried to fire back with some 3G news of their own, much less exciting as it may have been, with mm02 saying it planned to extend the two carriers' deal to share their German 3G networks. mmo2 will pay T-mobile GBP 137 million this year for access to their 3G network. mm02 likes to call this "3G sharing" - but are they just on their way to becoming basically a virtual operator, running their own network only in major cities (where it's most profitable)?

Nokia this week launched its N-Gage mobile gaming system, and announced forthcoming titles from a number of top video game developers, setting the stage for a monumental battle with Nintendo. But will they ever create a mobile-phone game that betters the classic Snake?

Further proof that the hardest-working people at Microsoft are its lawyers, not that we really needed it: The Seattle behemoth counter sued Sendo for breach of contract, resulting from the British manufacturer's decision to drop Microsoft's mobile-phone OS in favor of Symbian's. Microsoft also of course denied all of Sendo's claims filed in the original suit as well. The suit, to be heard in US District Court in Texarkana, Texas, should be quite an event when and if it makes it to trial in the sleepy tri-state town.

Ericsson boss Kurt Hellstroem said this week that there's a chance the global network infrastructure market could be flat this year, coming in at the top end of estimates. That is, he says, if spending in Europe - where analysts expect the market to be flat this year - picks up, spending in Japan - where Ericsson predicts spending to be down by 10% this year - gets a boost, and spending in China - where the company expects spending to be down 5% - comes in at 7-8% higher than last year. That would be quite a trifecta there, Kurt.

Not necessarily coincidental, Ericsson also announced this week that Carl-Henric Svanberg, CEO of the world's biggest lock manufacturer, would replace Hellstroem, who is retiring, as chief executive.