Weekly Wrap: Is a Recovery Among Us?
By Carlo Longino, Fri Sep 05 07:30:00 GMT 2003

Solid handset sales figures and a huge infrastructure deal point to things looking up, GSM gets cracked, and more...


Gartner released their second-quarter handset sales figures this week, and things look a little rosier for device makers. Nearly 115 million devices were sold in the 3-month period, up 12% from last year. Nokia continues to set the pace, while the other top-six manufacturers, bar number 2 Motorola and number 4 Siemens, grew as well, with Sony Ericsson making a strong showing. Gartner analysts say between 450 and 460 million handsets will be sold this year, with IDC this week predicting 500 million will be sold in 2004.

Sony Ericsson also released a number of new devices this week, ahead of the Sony Dream World show in Paris. The JV showed off the Z600, which features the same feature set as the popular T610, but in a clamshell form factor, which along with the new Z200, is its first clamshell models for the Western market. They also took the wraps off a nifty Bluetooth headset, the HBH-200.

Verizon announced a huge network gear deal this week, saying it would buy USD 1 billion worth of gear from struggling Nortel Networks to boost and expand its CDMA1x network in the US. Verizon played off its significance, saying it was part of their typical USD 4 billion per year capital spending, but no two ways about it, it's a big deal, particularly for Nortel. Another interesting part of the deal is that it covers WLAN-cellular roaming equipment...

Will they ever learn? Not content with watching the backlash Orange suffered by trying to shut unauthorized applications out of its Microsoft Smartphone-powered SPV, news came out this week that UK carrier 3 will lock the new Symbian-powered Motorola A920 handset, meaning it will run only 3-approved applications. This, of course, eliminates many of the benefits of handsets sharing OSes, and keeps A920 buyers from using any of the hundreds of applications already developed for the Sony Ericsson P800, which shares the Symbian 7.0 OS and UIQ user interface with the A920.

News emerged this week that Israeli researchers have discovered a whole in the GSM standard's security, which, with some pricey equipment, allows ne'er-do-wells to listen in on and hijack calls. The researchers say they'll work with the GSM Association trade body to plug the hole, but the group is taking a pretty relaxed attitude, saying the cost of the necessary equipment means it's not much of a risk. Right. Until somebody puts the plans on how to make what you need out of an empty Nescafe jar up on the Web.

We also told you this week about another potential player in the mobile OS battle, a Singapore company called Radixs, who says they've got an OS that can run Windows, Linux, and Palm apps. They're being pretty tight-lipped at the moment, but say they'll reveal some device and carrier partners later this month. They've got an interesting idea -- running applications on a server, then sending just enough data to devices -- but we'll have to wait and see where it goes.

It also seems that Iraq has a role in the mobile world, with the tender to become its mobile operator pushed back a week due to interest. But there are some potential pitfalls for the winning bidder...

Jeff Goldman made an interesting observation on the site this week, wondering if mobile phones might offer Chinese vendors with a suitable payment-processing system.

And finally, Justin Ried told us about the dumbest criminal in the mobile world.