Sendo tweaks its image with flagship smartphone

The Sendo X, successor to the company's aborted Windows smartphone, could increase the appeal of photo messaging by allowing users to get personal

UK mobile phone maker Sendo is hoping its newly introduced Sendo X flagship smartphone will give multimedia messaging the extra nudge it needs to turn into a money-spinner for network operators. On top of its other high-end features, the handset includes a camera and built-in photo-editing software, allowing users to personalise an image before sending it as an MMS.

At the Sendo X launch in London on Wednesday, the company said if users were encouraged to touch up pictures, there is more chance they would send them to friends, which translates into revenues for network operators. Text messaging has proven one of the biggest earners for operators, generating more than 10 percent of average revenues per user for many. However, analysts such as Ovum predict that these revenues could disappear as users switch to cheaper forms of text messaging, such as mobile email.

Ron Schaeffer, product manager at Sendo, said personalisation could revolutionise the way consumers use MMS. "It's all about increasing revenue for the operator," he said. "We think if you can make someone look stupid in a picture, you're more likely to send it as an MMS. So the Image Editor is integrated into the photo album. You can add graphics, captions, crop the picture, and so on."

The tri-band Sendo X has been designed to go head to head with Sony Ericsson's P900 and similar offerings from Nokia and Samsung. It includes a VGA video and still digital camera with a 4X zoom, a flash and automatic red-eye reduction. The phone comes with 64MB of memory -- of which 32MB is available to users built-in -- which the company said is enough to store 1,000 high-quality pictures.

Sendo is optimistic about taking on the world's largest phone manufacturers because it claims it has already received a number of orders from operators, including Italian operator TIM. Hugh Brogan, chief executive of Sendo, said: "I wouldn't call the order from TIM an enormous order, but it's comparable with the orders the other smartphone manufacturers are getting."

Details of the Symbian-based Sendo X smart phone were first revealed last month. The plans came as a surprise because it had been less than a year since the Birmingham-based company was forced to abandon its plans for a Windows-based smartphone due to a legal dispute with Microsoft.

ZDNet UK's Rupert Goodwins contributed to this report.