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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 September, 2004, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
Vodafone launches 10 new 3G sets
The new Vodafone 3G range - pic from Vodafone
The firm is introducing 3G handsets that can be used worldwide
Vodafone has said it is to launch 10 new 3G handsets in November, as it aims to capitalise on the Christmas market.

The handsets will feature state-of-the-art technology offering improved quality, sound, pictures and video, as well as access to 3G games.

In April, it began selling 3G datacards that allow internet connections to laptop users at seven times the speed of a fixed-line service.

It then launched commercial 3G services in Germany and Portugal.

It is a crucial time for Vodafone in Japan
Neale Anderson, Ovum

The latest announcement marks Vodafone's full entry into the 3G market, after the above launches and selected businesses offerings.

In afternoon trade in London, shares in Vodafone were up 2.75 pence at 133p.

Priority orders

The mobile industry has had high hopes for 3G, but the consumer market has shown less interest than the sector had expected.

Operators, including Vodafone and Orange, paid a total of close to 22.5bn for licences to run 3G services in the UK.

"Vodafone is definitely trying to capitalise on the Christmas market," Neale Anderson, a director at telecoms research organisation Ovum, told BBC News Online.

New Vodafone 3G handset models
Sharp 802
Sharp 902
Motorola E1000
Motorola C980
Motorola V980
NEC's Vodafone 802N
Sony Ericsson V800
Nokia 6630
Samsung Z110V
Samsung Z107V

"It is all about scale, there are dozens of operators across Europe and further afield, but not enough handset production to provide the number required for everyone.

"With their massive orders, the handset manufacturers will now be giving priority to Vodafone and other larger operators."

He said rivals like Hutchison were also ordering "massive volumes" of new phones from firms like Motorola, NEC, and LG.

Mr Anderson added that there had been problems with the introduction of new ranges of 3G handsets, because they also had to be compatible with existing 2G networks.

"There is so much computer power needed in these new handsets."

'Major breakthrough'

New Vodafone models due to go on sale include the first two-megapixel camera phone in Europe, which can take pictures at a higher resolution than those already on the market.

The prices of the handsets - developed in partnership with manufacturers including Sony Ericsson, Nokia and Motorola - have not yet been revealed.

"The planned launch of our new 3G handset portfolio represents a major breakthrough in terms of handset choice," said chief marketing officer Peter Bamford.

"It will also give consumers the opportunity to experience the enhanced range of Vodafone Live! with 3G services, opening up a whole new world of communication and entertainment via the mobile phone."

Japanese problems

Vodafone group companies in Europe will be able to use nine of the handsets, while those in Japan will be able to use seven of the selection.

This will create savings for the company globally when procuring new models.

Vodafone Japan has struggling in recent months due to a lack of compelling models and services to compete with NTT DoCoMo and KDDI.

In July it became the first major mobile phone operator in the country to report a drop in monthly customer numbers.

Mr Anderson said: "It is a crucial time for Vodafone in Japan.

"Where it has suffered is because it has waited to roll out phones that could be used across its group, and which would then allow it to just introduce different Japanese software into its new phones there."

Vodafone sees user loss in Japan
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26 Jul 04 |  Business
Vodafone cuts bottom-line losses
25 May 04 |  Business
Vodafone launches 3G in Europe
04 May 04 |  Business
Vodafone extends UK 3G coverage
02 Apr 04 |  Business
Vodafone pays 4.8bn for BT stakes
02 May 01 |  Business

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