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Motorola mega-leak: the agony lingers on

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Motorola has plugged one source of the leak that saw most of next year's GSM handsets spill on to the web over the weekend. But a Czech site still appears to have chapter and verse, and includes some information that Howards didn't publish.

Motorola sources reminded us that phone roadmaps are updated monthly - and unofficially more often - and since this a month old, it's really just old news. Details change, and models can disappear.

All true, but how fun it would be to be treated to such old news every day!

Although the handset manufacturers like to display their flagship models (the Nokia 7650, say, or the P800) six to eight months ahead of launch to maximize publicity, details of new midrange models are closely guarded. So it's rare to find such a large portion of a future portfolio revealed in one go.

The industry's bush telegraph often gives competitors several month's warning of a launch. When handset manufacturers share the same component channels, the same customers (the carriers), and have to jump through the same regulatory compliance hoops, it's hard to keep a secret completely secret. But they do a pretty good job, and Nokia is about the most inscrutable.

Motorola sources we spoke to on Monday were mortified by the leak, but by yesterday appear to have decided to roll with the punches. Moto told CNET yesterday that it wouldn't be taking legal action against the Czech site mobil maniz.cz which has portions of the presentation, including some details not seen before. (For example, the TA02.7, a dual-band 900/1800 phone).

CNET's report curiously omitted any mention of the two most interesting devices on the roadmap: Paragon II and the A835. The latter is a tweak of a handset that was announced earlier this year, the A830, which we're told Siemens will license and market under its own banner.

Moto's share price even edged higher yesterday, on a bearish day, so perhaps the leak reminded the markets that the company's R&D is alive and kicking.

And we're at one with Motorola in hoping that this kind of leak is never seen again.

Where would that leave old-fashioned sleuthing? It's hard work. Our 2002 smartphone roadmap was based on several dozen interviews with over a dozen sources, and omitted much fascinating detail that we could only single-source.

Dang - if handset manufacturers start blurting their plans out like this, us hacks will have no choice but to give up, retire to Dorset and play skittles. ®

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