LONDON The global market for smartphones next year will be up to 30 million units, with around 18 million of these in Europe, according Sendo chief executive and co-founder Hugh Brogan, whose company has just entered the sector with the SendoX.
The multimedia phone, the first from Sendo based on the Nokia Series 60 software and Symbian operating system, is an upmarket phone that, in keeping with the Birmingham, England based company's business model is targeted at operators who wish to customize the graphics and sound to their requirements.
"We developed the phone in exactly one year from a standing start after licensing the Series 60 from Nokia, and had great collaboration from them and Symbian to achieve that", said Ron Schaeffer, head of product strategy at Sendo.
Sendo was originally going to use Microsoft's Smartphone OS, but that had to be abandoned when it decided to sue the software giant in a< href="http://www.commsdesign.com/story/OEG20031001S0027"target="_new">casethat is still in the US courts.
Sendo claims some smartphone features it was developing in conjunction with Microsoft have been adopted in other handsets made by other Microsoft partners. However, Brogan declined to comment when asked by CommsDesign.com whether the company is taking legal action against others, specifically HTC, the Taiwanese group that makes the Microsoft powered phone for companies such as Orange.
He did confirm that despite the legal disputes, Microsoft retains its 5% stake in the phone manufacturer.
Brogan also said the SendoX has many features that outdo Nokia's smartphones, though he admits the Finnish company will be the one to beat in the market. He maintains there will be five or six other smartphone players in the early days of the business.
Key design features Sendo claims for the smartphone include the Now! screen that makes the phone easily customizable for both operators and users, and the use of the graphiX co-processor that leaves the ARM 9 free for other tasks. The phone is being positioned much more as a device with 'real' camera capabilities, as opposed to a handset with a 'good enough' camera included. The screen is 176x266 with 65,000 colors.
The triple band GSM/GPRS phone has built-in Bluetooth connectivity as well as USB and infra-red connectivity.
Sendo has received orders from Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) for the smartphones. "It is not enormous, but comparable in size to orders the operator is placing with other suppliers, for example Nokia", said Brogan.
He would not comment on how much the phone would cost, but gave a strong hint when he said the phones are unsubsidized in Italy and TIM will be selling them for about Euros 500 (about $600).
It will also ship in Germany with an unnamed partner before the end of March.