Sony Ericsson’s surge

Sony Ericsson continues to turn itself around. That's great news for the entire North American handset market as it shows that consumers are willing to embrace more media-rich (and I don't mean in just the carrier-fed J2ME/Brew way), functional handsets that have been increasingly well-designed. And take note, Nokia, they're doing it without having to create a complex retail infrastructure. Despite criticism that the Walkman brand has lost its luster, those branded music phones have been selling well. Perhaps the wireless world will boost the brand instead of leveraging it.

At CTIA, I was impressed by the M600 — a keypad-based handset that combines two keys on each button, similar in appearance to handsets such as RIM's Blackberry 7100 series. However, unlike a similar offering from Samsung, it actually enables you to specify which key is pressed rather than licensing RIM's SureType predictive text system. While many users say SureType works well, I would still have a hard time placing my trust in it. The M600 keyboard seems to be an improvement over the flimsy flip of the P910.

Text input is starting to get better. In addition to these SureType-based systems, offerings from LG and others will finally use Digit Wireless's Fastap. I was briefed by Digit Wireless many years ago and always thought it was a very clever system, although perhaps not suitable for extended text input.The M600 may be the sleekest full-featured QWERTY smartphone in the market when it hits the States.

Between this and Sony's Bravia success, Sony looks like it's starting to address some of its many challenges. Of course, much hinges on the PlayStation 3's reception.

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