Sony Ericsson says, “Idou”

Today at MWC (well, technically a day before), Sony Ericsson announced their eventual plans to someday release a potentially great phone.

Sorry for the pessimism, but it’s just sort of odd that they’d showcase a phone they know won’t become available until the second half of this year—probably September-November, if I had to guess.

What’s odder is that the phone wasn’t actually announced, just showcased.  In essence, it’s a concept phone, similar to concept cars that you see at auto shows.  The Idou is an example of something SE could create, but its feature set and physical style may not exactly match whatever phone eventually makes it to the market.

The good news is that the phone looks does look great as it stands now.  It has a 12.1 MP camera with a Xenon flash and a touchscreen, all running atop the next generation of Symbian from the Symbian Foundation.

The codename stands at “Idou,” which is a change from what it used to be, namely, “Kokura.”  Perhaps Kokura was canceled and Idou is the successor to that project.  Either way, the phone certainly looks the part of a great phone, but my concern is what else it does.  What’s the video recording like (now that the Omnia HD has upped the ante considerably and only one SE phone records above QVGA)?  Is there a 3.5mm jack?  Given the fact this is a just a concept device, these questions may not even be relevant, and the final feature set may be completely different.

It’s an interesting tactic—showcasing a concept of a device with a massive spec list far ahead of the competition.  In one way, this is good because now SE will forever go down as the first company to show a 12 MP cameraphone, but to think they’re the only ones is foolish.  Samsung is known to have a 12 MP phone already, though it’s been held back.  LG will follow.  Probably Nokia too some day.  The thing is, the gap between announcement and release of the competitor’s devices will be much shorter than SE’s, and, for example, Samsung’s device may actually be on the market sooner too—just like how the C905 was announced first, but the i8510 was on the market first.

UPDATE: Idou, or whatever phone Idou becomes, will be officially announced (with all the specs made available) before summer.  The release is still set for the second half of 2009.

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Hikaru is W995

Sony Ericsson also just announced—yes, announced, not showcased—the W995, previously known only as Hikaru.

It has a very traditional SE design, which isn’t a bad thing, though it’s not exactly eye-catching.  The W995 features an 8MP camera, LED flash, face detection, WLAN, GPS, Walkman Player 4.0, and a QVGA 2.6-inch screen.

The camera is the most impressive part since Walkmans traditionally have very poor quality cameras.  This is the first phone (besides the W902) to feature an actual, usuable camera.

If you love Walkmans and need a good camera, there’s probably no other SE that will come close for a while.  For me, it’s not that impressive.  I’ve known about the feature set of the phone for quite a while now and nothing about it is immediately jaw-dropping.  Still, a good device, albeit a non-smartphone.

My predictions for MWC 2009

On a personal note, I wish it was still referred to as 3GSM.  Sounds a lot cooler than MWC.  Especially when you learn what “MWC” stands for–“Mobile World Congress.”  Sounds like white people in suits.  Sounds like no fun.

Anyway, last year’s “MWC’ was pretty good.  Not great, but good.  It saw the intro of Sony Ericsson’s Xperia X1, which in my opinion stole the show, even though it is only a mediocre device, spec-wise, and ended up being released like a bajillion years later.  It also saw the announcement of Nokia’s N96, which is a disgrace to the Nseries brand.  But, hey.

This year looks like it’s going to be amazing.  Knock your socks off awesome.

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The times, they are a-changin’?

I was at Best Buy and I had to take the holy pilgrimage to the cell phone department, just because, well, I have to.  Don’t argue with the digital deities.

Anyway, they reorganized the entire section and so I had to look for the AT&T section.  I spotted a Sony Ericsson W580i—a phone available with AT&T—out of the corner of my eye, so I moved in that direction.  All of the sudden, I saw this:

Whaaaaaaaa?

UNLOCKED phones??  In the United States??

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Phones galore in Vegas

My original plan in Vegas, at some point, was to find the Nokia Experience Center at the Fashion Show Mall.  It has since left, but I was pleasantly surprised by some of the other things available.

The first encounter was at the Caesar’s Palace Forum Shops.

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Right under my nose this whole time

Remember how I was making a big deal out of the prospect of DLNA on the SE C905?

Turns out my Nokia N95 has had it this entire time and I didn’t know it.  I’m still trying to figure out how to use it, but the potential is amazing.

Score one for Nokia.

A turning point?

I just read a report that kind of pains me yet has me excited at the same time.  Apparently, Sony Ericsson isn’t doing too well.  According to a very reliable online source (a guy who gets basically every prototype unit from every company several months before release), all of SEs phones from now to at least April 2009 aren’t cutting the mustard.

In the last quarter, SE has fallen from fourth to fifth largest phone manufacturer, losing out to LG of all companies.  Kind of embarrassing.

They also just barely broke even in the finances.  That means no profit.  But they’re not in the hole…yet.

According to the source—whose Web site is here—SE is in a serious rut as of late and doesn’t have any signs of getting out.  Even the C905, a phone I was looking forward to possibly getting, will probably fall victim.

It’s too bad, really.  I like SE, but I agree that they seem to be on the wrong track and no one seems to know exactly what the problem is.  Part of the problem, I think, is SE’s insistence on the “advantages and disadvantages” system of phone building.  They have Walkmans and Cyber-shots, and they don’t like the features of either to mix.  That means crappy cameras on the Walkmans and sub-par music players on the Cyber-shots.  For power users like me who demand high-tech perfection in everything, this is kind of frustrating (moreso since SE has said one of the reasons for the financial issues is lack of high-end phones).  The Cyber-shots have the edge, technologically, but are too expensive for a lot of people, so they don’t sell as much.  (And their camera quality has steadily gone down hill in the past few years, and SE, which was the undisputed camera phone king, has lost to Nokia for the past two years.)

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