Weekly Wrap: A Leader Stumbles
By Carlo Longino, Fri Apr 09 14:45:00 GMT 2004

Nokia says its first-quarter handset sales will come in lower than many investors had hoped, cameraphones eat into digital camera sales, and more...


Citing an off-kilter product mix, Nokia said this week its first-quarter sales would come in at the low end of its previously announced expectations. Investors reacted by knocking about 20% off the company's share price. The company's range of available handsets was skewed to the low end, and its offerings this quarter weren't proving a huge hit with consumers, as Nokia's sales growth couldn't keep pace with the overall market.

Something else that doesn't appear to be selling well are low-end digital cameras, with the president of Sony Ericsson saying this week that its parent, Sony, has ceded that segment of the digital camera market to cameraphones. Coming on the heels of last week's cameraphone sales figures, this news shows that as integrated cameras' quality increases to 1 megapixel and higher, standalone digital cameras will become redundant and irrelevant for many consumers.

Douglas Rushkoff took a look this week at the spread of cameraphones, and how it's changing they way people view and interact with photography.

News came through this week that in February, more text messages were sent in the US than in the UK for the first time, signalling that texting might finally be taking hold in the country. While the US still lags far behind on messages sent per user, it's a significant symbolic milestone, even if most of the world has moved on to picture messaging.

Also in the US this week, a consumers group put out a press release crying foul over carriers locking the handsets they sell so they can't be used on another operator's network. Oh yeah, they sent a letter to the FCC about it, too. But they're a little misguided, and doing something that will force carriers to abandon handset subsidies will raise handset prices for those consumers the group is ostensibly protecting.

Soap operas are moving onto mobile phones, with news this week of Sofia's Diary, a multimedia soap that lets users interact with the show over SMS, WAP and voice calls, and News Corp. announced they'd launch their own mobile soap, Hotel Franklin, with episodes as one-minute video clips.

As mobile video grows in popularity, users will need a way to store increasing amounts of data on their devices. Hard-disk makers know this, and are working to create tiny drives that can be integrated in mobile devices. They've got to overcome some obstacles first, though, including the physical size of the drives, and their power consumption.

While many users are always looking to do more with their phones, a growing number of businesses and venues are looking for ways to make them able to do less. Several companies are developing products to jam mobile phone signals, force phones into silent mode, or otherwise render them useless. While active jammers are illegal in many countries, passive products, like building supplies that create interference, or devices that monitor for phone use then sound an alarm when it's detected, aren't.

Elsewhere on the site this week, John Alderman talks about how India and Pakistan's mobile carriers, like the rest of the two countries, are bonding over ahistoric cricket series, and David Pescovitz beams back some news about the Interplanetary Internet.