TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: An Apple Phone is No Slam-Dunk

An Apple Phone is No Slam-Dunk

Monty Solomon (
Fri, 22 Dec 2006 15:09:01 -0500

An Apple phone is no slam-dunk
The wireless world can be a harsh place. Just ask Sony, says
Fortune's Stephanie Mehta.

By Stephanie N. Mehta, Fortune senior writer
December 22 2006: 11:31 AM EST

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- A well-regarded computer and
consumer-electronics maker plunges into the competitive wireless
market with a combination music player/cell phone. The company's loyal
users can barely wait to try the new gadget, and analysts predict the
device will deliver on the long-promised marriage of music and

We're describing, of course, a phone Sony made for Japan's NTT DoCoMo,
circa 2000. But you'd be forgiven for thinking we were talking about
Apple's rumored wireless phone, which could be launched as early as
next month.

It turns out that Sony's wireless experience is a cautionary tale for
any consumer electronics maker - including Apple - trying to make the
move into the cell phone business. Sony stumbled badly with its music
player/phone, and in May 2001 DoCoMo recalled 40,000 of the handsets
due to software glitches. (One phone reportedly shut down if the user
was listening to music when the phone rang.)

Then, another Japanese operator recalled more than 500,000 Sony
Internet-capable handsets. A few months later, Sony entered a joint
venture with established telecom player Ericsson, in part, executives
of the venture say, to gain much-needed wireless expertise. The
alliance, Sony Ericsson, today is the No. 4 maker of wireless phones,
after Nokia, Motorola and Samsung.

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