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3GSM It's not unusual at telecoms trade shows to see lots of products that are never seen again. And we don't mean 'concept devices' or labs projects which are clearly not intended to be products. We mean stuff that simply stalls en route to the runway.

Siemens has a particularly rich tradition of these, given its long industrial heritage. Does anyone remember what happened to the PMG phone? This was showcased at last year's 3GSM show: the idea was that the handset would be a VoIP phone piggybacking onto your DSL connection at home, but when you went outdoors, it reverted to the cellular networks. What a great idea: no wonder it sank without trace.

This year Siemens demonstrated a DECT phone with a built in camera, that takes pictures and sends them via MMS. The company does back-end infrastructure very well, and says as part of its 'unified network' architecture (everyone has to have one of those) it has a mechanism for sending MMS to landline phones and back again.

It's one way of sending a picture, we guess, but the hard part is convincing telcos to add the feature to their networks. You'd think wireline operators would leap at the idea of selling a little more high margin kit, and increasing revenues. But they probably have enough trouble fencing off the wireless operators, already competing for customers' minutes, cable operators and VoIP upstarts.

Siemens' most eye-catching announcement was surely dreamt up about 30 minutes before mobile chief Rudy Lamprecht took the stage. 'Picture Chat' is the name of a service that will allow you to up anonymously to a buddy list and then, using a Push to Talk walkie talkie service, chat to strangers and exchange pictures.

"You'll be able to flirt with a simple push of a button," said Lamprecht. We know a winner when we see one. ®

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