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What Sony Ericsson's up to: Part II

Following on from the announcements referred to in Part I, here's the lowdown on the future tech we got shown by Sony Ericsson, plus a bit more analysis.Project Capuchin - Now we're talking.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Following on from the announcements referred to in Part I, here's the lowdown on the future tech we got shown by Sony Ericsson, plus a bit more analysis.

Project Capuchin - Now we're talking. Essentially a blend of Flash and Java, the idea with Capuchin (the SDK came out late August, roundabout the same time as the SDK for the X1) is to help developers easily create new apps, new uses for existing apps and even customised themes. Saw a demo. It looks awesome. It'll work with Symbian, Windows Mobile, other manufacturers' phones... well, "We are currently looking into the possibilities of how to share Capuchin with others".

Capuchin will work in the C905, which comes out in a month. Then, all subsequent SE phones. If you're wondering where the name comes from, by the way, it's a rather lateral-thinking reference to both coffee (cappuccino, Java, geddit?) and Tamarin, which is the name of an Adobe (Flash, geddit?) open source project and also the name of a relative of the Capuchin monkey. Phew.

Hanashi - Currently available in beta form, this is all to do with IMS, which is one of the classic telephony-related solutions-in-search-of-a-problem. Basically, it lets you invite someone into a data session, like instant messaging or photo sharing, even if they're not online on their phone. It'll send them an SMS, which they can use to join the conversation. Not thoroughly useless by any means, but hardly resolving a burning issue for most mobile users at the moment. Who knows, maybe it's the future. What do I know?

Near Field Communications - Oh lord, not again. Yes, it can read business cards, change your phone profile as you enter a meeting room, etc. Yes, it's big in Japan. But it's been around for a while, and Western Europe is still hardly clamouring for it. Right now it costs $2-3 to stick in a phone, mainly because it uses 30MHz and needs a big antenna. SE predicts it'll only cost $1 to stick in a phone by 2011. But only if it takes off. Apparently "it will take time for people to adapt".

TransferJet - Hello, ultrawideband. This'll be for transferring hi-def video etc from capturing device to PC, or from phone to phone. At a distance of 3cm, this Sony tech will give you burst speeds of 560Mbps and a sustained 375Mbps, apparently. And you don't have to pair the devices, because the necessary proximity provides the security. Eh? Isn't this what WiMedia et al are doing? And might that be why no other phone manufacturers have signed up yet?

Virtual phones technology - Truly impressive software-based 3D surround sound tech. It's been in Walkman players for 5 years, apparently. But don't be fooled by the name – that's headphones it's referring to. There are "no firm plans yet" to put it into SE phones. Why not? Nobody had the faintest idea, or at least they weren't letting on.

Future phone designs - We met the lovely design team, who're doing a terrific job repackaging what are essentially incremental enhancements on the same camera and music phones. They have also come up with two of the most splendidly horrific and tautologous words I've encountered in recent times: "Trendencies" and "Archistructure". Thanks for that!

Business-plan-wise, SE wants to do more in China, India and of course the US (that'll be your X1 right there). Latin America's been good this year, apparently. Margins are, however, tight these days. And the economy means consumers are less keen to replace their phones. Fair's fair though – this is an industry-wide nightmare, and not SE-specific. The company has a great product lead in Rikko Sakaguchi, who recognises user experience as the killer app, as it were. The iPhone may have had something to do with that, but again, SE is not alone in having to catch up to that particular beast.

I'll leave you with a quote from company president Dick Komiyama: "You may be wondering where we are going as Sony Ericsson, but believe us we are going in the right direction".

I really hope so.

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