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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 March, 2004, 09:37 GMT
Sony Ericsson banks on 3G appeal
By Alfred Hermida
BBC News Online technology editor

Sony Ericsson's first foray into 3G handsets is the Z1010
The future looks bright for third generation mobiles, according to the boss of phone maker Sony Ericsson.

Katsumi Ihara said that as more video and music became available to download, users would switch to the new mobiles.

"With the 3G network, you can download rich content in a short period of time, so time has come for content companies," he told BBC News Online.

Third generation phone services let users access the net at high speeds and allows them to watch and send videos.

The technology has been slow to take off in the UK, partly hampered by the large and cumbersome nature of the first handsets. But it looks like there are better times ahead.

The country's first 3G operator, 3, recently reported a big jump in the number of customers, helped by the arrival of smaller, lighter phones.

Media opportunity

Sony Ericsson is looking to tap into this demand for the new handsets with its first 3G model, the clamshell Z1010.

"I see a change of atmosphere surrounding the 3G business," said Mr Ihara. "We have had strong demand for our first 3G phone, which we will introduce commercially in a short period of time.

"This is new technology, so there will be much trial and error. But today there is a clear business case for 3G and people are expecting 3G phones."

Sony Ericsson President Katsumi Ihara
We can take advantage of being part of Sony and Ericsson, with the joint expertise in video and communications technologies
Katsumi Ihara, Sony Ericsson president
The joint venture between Japan's Sony and Sweden's Ericsson was born in April 2001, but has yet to make a big splash.

It has about 5% of the global market for handsets, lagging behind firms such as Nokia, Motorola and Siemens.

But the Sony Ericsson president believes 3G technology offers his company an opportunity to capitalise on the range of music and film owned by Sony's media empire.

"We have a very strong commitment to 3G as we can offer lots of new applications," said Mr Ihara. "We can take advantage of being part of Sony and Ericsson, with the joint expertise in video and communications technologies."

Mr Ihara said the company was in an ideal position as it had experience of dealing with the mobile phone networks and Sony's entertainment division.

And he is confident that the illegal sharing of copyrighted video or audio over mobiles can be prevented.

"Music companies and movie companies concerned about security issues as with PC-based internet you can have lots of free content, even though lots of it is premium content," said Mr Ihara.

"But in the phone, we can easily protect the premium content."

Third generation phones that could deliver mobile video and data were seen by telecoms firms as huge future earners when they ran up heavy debts bidding for 3G licences in the late 1990s.

Technological problems have led to delays in launching the new networks in Europe, but the battle for the 3G market appears in the offing .

Vodafone, Orange and mmO2 have all announced plans for third-generation services in the UK later this year.

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12 Feb 04 |  Business
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16 Dec 03 |  Technology
New 3G handset offers much
29 Aug 03 |  Technology

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