The Walkman returns - as a Sony Ericsson phone

W800 "first in a long line" of all-in-one handsets

W800 "first in a long line" of all-in-one handsets

Sony Ericsson has revived the Walkman brand. Amidst the launch today of four new phones, handset accessories and a home entertainment hub was the W800, the first phone to sport the Walkman name.

Available as of the third quarter this year, it comes equipped with a two-megapixel camera, GPRS data access and - the main point here - the ability to listen to up to 30 hours of music via a digital music player.

Initially the focus will be on consumers shifting their CDs onto the device, usually using Sony Memory Stick Duo storage media, executives said.

Later this year, upcoming Walkman phones are expected to be announced that allow tracks to be downloaded from "open standards music services", said Steve Walker, Sony Ericsson head of product marketing.

He called the move to the phone-as-music-player - a development shared by most of Sony Ericsson's major competitors, most notably Motorola with its Apple collaboration - "a new lifestyle behaviour" and said vendors will have to start finding new ways of describing mobile terminals.

Figures out today from Juniper Research put the mobile music market - including things such as ringback tones and ringtones as well as downloaded tracks - at $9.3bn globally by 2009.

Alongside the W800 announcement were launches of the K750 two-megapixel phone, due out in Q2; the K300 for business users and the mass market; and the J300, aimed at the fashion-conscious.

Accessories announced include new Bluetooth headsets, a flash unit for camera phones and the MMV-200 media centre which links to a hi-fi or TV via Bluetooth, allowing content such as music or photos to be shared.

Prices for the new handsets were not revealed. What end users pay will largely depend on the levels each operator is willing to subsidise them.

Nor was there any precise number put on how many of the W800 Walkman handsets the Swedish-Japanese company has forecast it will ship.

When asked for a number, Sony Ericsson's Walker added: "A lot."