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SonyEricsson P800 slips to 2003?

'In selected markets'

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The briefest of reports at French website Mobilmag suggests that the much-hyped SonyEricsson P800, which integrates PDA and a 2.5G cameraphone, has been delayed until January 2003. The story doesn't cite any sources, but says that stability concerns are the reason for the delay.

A spokesman for SonyEricsson told us that "we will start shipping the P800 to operators in a few weeks, with availability in selected markets during Q4." Which implies some markets will see it in 2003.

Despite its appearance in the 'coming next month' section of the September phone catalogs in Europe, recent prototypes of the P800 we saw in London had some rough edges. It was possible to stall the device for several seconds by opening and closing the flip keypad rapidly, for example. We said then that a year-end release looked unlikely.

With its integrated camera, PDA functionality and packet data support, the P800 is the most complex device to emerge out of the Symbian code base. Officially the ship dates are 'Q3' for Europe and 'Q4' for North America. We also heard that SonyEricsson was determined to ship the device in 2002. For better or for worse, the fortunes of the joint venture depend on the success of this device, as SonyEricsson has neglected to produce mid-market and low-end volume models to match the acclaimed, but now ageing, T68/T68i models.

But with expectations reaching Newton-size proportions, SonyEricsson can't afford a Newton-sized disappointment. A delay would mean missing out on Christmas revenues, but this may be a prudent move in the long term. As Apple discovered, the Newton never fully recovered its momentum, despite fixing early flaws with handwriting recognition, performance and connectivity. Mud sticks*. ®

*Bootnote: As this proves - [Microsoft integrates Windows experience into smartphone UI]

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