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Hutchison 3G in launch date slippage

No deadlines, right?

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Hutchison Wampoa won't set launch dates for 3G services in Europe, in order to avoid any embarrassment.

This is what Nora Yong, a Hutchison spokeswoman in Hong Kong, told Bloomberg. "Our plan remains unchanged,
A plan for a fourth-quarter launch isn't a deadline. Our priority is to make sure the product is 100 per cent right before we launch it."

Now that's what we call hair-splitting. We could have sworn that Hutchison 3G had committed publicly to November launches in the UK and in Italy. But no deadlines, right? The company now says it will have paying customers by the end of December. This may be a little touch and go - the inference in Ms. Yong's statement is that "the product' is not 100 per cent right. Hutchison 3G trials show an ongoing problem in dropped calls and until this is resolved, there will be no formal launch, according to unnamed sources of the Financial Times.

The handsets also race through batteries in just an hour when used for video conferencing - thanks to the power drain of the backlit screen, today's FT notes. Also, there are hundreds of small technical hitches, which are, the firm tells the FT, being resolved on a daily basis.

And there's a slippage in handset stocks. These should have gone on sale today on the company's Italian web site. The launch date has been delayed a couple of weeks. ®

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