What's A Launch, Anyway?
By Carlo Longino, Fri Mar 07 13:06:54 GMT 2003

Hutchison's Three launched 3G services in the UK this week. Sort of...


03.03.03: For Hutchison 3G, it was a marketing opportunity that they just couldn't pass up. The third day of the third month of the third year - of course a perfect date to launch their 3G network in the UK. So "launch" it they did.

Never mind that consumers that go into 3's fancy shops can't take a handset home nor make calls nor use any of these wonderful services they've heard so much about. If we've learned anything from the rise of the Internet and Mobile Age, it's certainly to not let technological obstacles get in the way of a damn good launch party.

In other 3G news, beleaguered German carrier Mobilcom was trying to sell off its 3G network assets at fire-sale prices. It doesn't seem to be attracting much interest, however, fuelling rumors that it may end up simply giving it away.k Vodafone said its German unit, D2, would also launch 3G services this year. Look for more news on this next week as Vodafone D2 shows off its UMTS network and applications at the giant CeBIT trade show.

T-mobile attempted to shake things up a bit this week by slashing their mobile data prices by as much as 70%. The company said it was trying to stimulate usage by existing customers and hoped to get 20% of its revenues from data by 2004. But while the company will price most data services between EUR5 and EUR10 per megabyte, it said it doesn't see any price cuts for MMS on the horizon.

Speaking of cuts, Palm said this week that sales would be substantially lower than their previous guidance for this quarter, even after laying off 19% of its workforce. The company blamed a weak corporate market, saying sales of its new Tungsten T hadn't met expectations. Though the revenues might not be hitting the targets, Palm has managed to increase its market share, and says its planned break-up into a Solutions Group and PalmSource OS group aren't in jeopardy.

SonyEricsson kept up its recent quick pace of phone releases, this week announcing several new models. The T310/316 is aimed at the youth market with its strong gaming and imaging aspects, while the T610/616 is a new high-end phone with a 65,000-color screen and an available flash attachment for its built-in camera. Both phones feature the Mophun download platform, and the T610 also supports Java. The company also unveiled two new CDMA models, the T606 and the T608. Both have color screens, while the T606 supports BREW and has a camera attachment and the T608 supports Java and is the first CDMA phone to feature Bluetooth. All the models are expected to launch in the second quarter.

That's about it for this week, be sure to check back next Friday where we'll be bringing you the latest news from the CeBIT show floor.