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UK handset start-up sets sights on Chinese market

In the year of the rabbit, Sensei is hoping it's still good to talk

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The UK's only mobile phone vendor, Sensei, said today it would launch its first digital cellular handsets later this year. The company was set up last June to break into this already saturated sector. Aiming at this year's anticipated premium markets, China and Europe, it will bring out mobile handsets for the corporate market in August, and entry-level phones for price-sensitive users by the end of 1999. Sensei has two main distributors: European Telecomms for Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Express Fortune for Asia Pacific. It has factories in China and Europe. Michael Camilleri, Sensei president and CEO, acknowledged the difficulty of breaking into this mature market. But he said Sensei has no hopes of taking away market share from the top three players: Nokia, Motorola and Ericsson. "The market is growing so quickly that there is room for many smaller players to compete for the rest of the market space which is increasing every year. Sensei wants one per cent of this part -- or 1.5 million units shipped from August to December this year." Camilleri ought to know the market, having served his time at Ericsson, Phillips and Alcatel. In addition, Sensei is not being swept along in the tide of Internet/mobile phone integration that seems to be on everyone's lips in Cannes this week, he said. "A handset is fundamentally something that people buy because they want to make calls. If any added Internet features take away that mobile capacity -- for example, reducing battery life -- we're not interested." ®

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