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Sony Ericsson K750i - new possibilities from the firstprimary source
This review is quite unusual in the fact that we managed to meet one of the men that helped develop Sony Ericsson K750i, also know as Clara. Because of obvious reasons, his name will remain anonymous and that was one of his wishes. The situation is unique not only because you will have a chance to read opinions on the K750i and get to know its specifications, but rather because that it is the first time a direct developer of the phone tells about his product, decisions and logic. As far as I remember, there are no publications yet published of this type of tete-a-tete.
The history of this review is also interesting. One of my good acquaintances working for a huge European operator phoned me in Moscow and told me of an interesting offer he had and asked to pass on my info. As a result, in some time, a man phoned me and asked for me to make a trip to a European city for a weekend, motivating me with a statement, "my not always right opinion on the company's products and developers' marketing and decision making points of view." As a reward for the money spent on the trip, I was offered a chance to publish the facts and statements from the meeting. My first thought of this meeting though seemed to me to be some kind of check-up or security check with Sony Ericsson's security. I understand that sometimes leaking information makes people nervous, but I ensure that we only publish data that has already been released by the company.
Having thought it over, I considered the maximum loss of a one-day trip in central Europe and decided it was worth it. I phoned my friend and asked them to arrange a meeting. While aboard the plane, I began leafing through a biography database and was able to guess at whom the meeting might be with. I then took a seat near a window in a cafe and began waiting patiently for my meeting partner. The man was extremely punctual and I was greatly surprised by his appearance and was very impressed. Knowing the work this man has done or supervised, your obedient servant never expected to ever meet this man in person. Having spoken with him for 7 hours, I was convinced that this man is both a good specialist and an excellent conversationalist. In the interview below, we provide the main and most interesting questions and answers because including the whole interview is to much and unnecessary.
E.M. Sony Ericsson has been associated with innovational products, users accepted T68i well and then T610 became a bestseller in short time and many people were waiting for its renewal with memory card support. But the company offered only K700 and S700 having direct or indirect rivals. What was the reason of this long waiting before a new model having no rivals and making the company the leader in the high-price segment was launched?
A. The question and the answer on it concern the ideology of phone manufacturing. A new model is not only developing a technological platform (software or hardware) but also marketing of the created product and offering it via various distributional channels. We are capable of manufacturing interesting models in short time and the company has many significant developments in interface and machine-human interaction. But manufacturing a product is the first step towards its success on the market. Then the company needs shipping the product to the market and making it competitive. Maximum functions means maximum price. Our ideology differs and we need to create a product that will be unique for the release moment and will be available to the majority of the audience. Life circle of this product will be the maximum and its price will decrease but the company has to earn money with it for long. And the example of Sony Ericsson T610 demonstrates this concept.
The second important factor is a launch time. You need to talk to operators, independent distributors and prepare extra services for the phone. By the way, in two years phones will mainly become terminals with preset services and thus manufacturers will talk to the point of collaboration to operators on a principally new level.
The restriction for launching a new model is an existing model line and production capacity. If old models are a success on the market, the margin is acceptable and the rivals do not plan to launch any comparable products there are no reasons for representing a new model. Demand structure determines everything. Imposing technological wars to other manufacturers is a bad way to strengthen positions for a company controlling only one tenth of the market. There are many pressure instruments from the rivals' side and first that is a price of a product. For instance, you manufacture an extremely functional device that leaves other products behind and has no direct rivals at least in a course of a year. And do you think this model will become popular on the market? Yes, it will be much written about, get many awards but will be poorly sold. The rivals will provide worse models for less money and the customer is "price-sensitive" like operators. Launching the leader only for being told about everywhere is not a business. That is partly why representing a new model comparable to T610 was postponed for a long. And now this is the time for launching it.
E.M. The combination of technologies for T610 was quite clear, that is the presence of a camera, a color screen and a stylish design. And what message do you put into K750 and what new the device brings?
A. We call this device True Imaging. Models S700/K700 represented the first steps towards the integration of a phone and a digital camera. Those horizontally oriented models were similar to cameras and side buttons served for controlling it. That is a natural way to control the camera for many and we stake on it. Just remember what our advertisement tells about - "a camera on the one side and a phone on the other".
Here a 2-megapixel camera appeared for the first time and there are no similar phones with these dimensions on the market. We expect the first comparable solutions by other manufacturers to appear in three or four month after our device. Just look here and see how smoothly the picture changes on the screen. Try to press the shutter button slightly. Can you see it? The device is being tuned for the object and the picture gets sharp. The same ideology is present in usual cameras. The objective is equipped with an automatic focus system and works on every distance including macro mode.
The objective is closed with an active moving shutter. You do not need to call the menu or any other actions you just slide the cover and start shooting. The phone remembers the last shooting settings and that is comfortable. Shooting settings are comparable with digital cameras like in S700 that is an automatic white balance, exposure control.
A panoramic shooting mode migrated here from K700, many users like the function and we plan to use it in the next product line. A new function Burst Mode appeared and for instance when shooting football match you should use this mode. The phone takes 4 photos with a short interval and that is one of those few ways to get a qualitative picture of a moving object.
The maximum camera resolution is 1632x1124 pixels that is enough for printing mot only 10x15 cm photos but even larger with keeping the quality. Especially for you I brought printed photos taken with my digital camera and with the phone, just find which photos refer to which device.
E.M. I like such games but in this came choosing photos made with the phone of the 20 represented will be easy. Degraded details in the corners indicated bad optics though a foreground remains acceptable. In general such photos are good for phones but not for good 4,5-megapixel camera.
Hem, that is not as easy with landscapes and possible only a photo with tree leaves gives the phone away. The picture shows how the compression algorithm worked and a point structure is seen in printing. In a portrait shooting I find it hard to divide the pictures. In general the photos are very good considering the phone is small. And why did not you provide photos in bad light conditions and in the dark?
A. There are no miracles and noises appear in the darkness and even using an integrated flash does not improve the situation. The macro mode is not always well taken but in general that is characteristic for the products of this class.
To tell the truth these are not the best photos taken with the phone. But draw your attention you didn't manage to separate photos with the phone from those with the camera at first sight. And you had to spend time to learn some details. And we think this fact allows considering the model unique. In a minimal body you get a camera comparable to good digital cameras in printing. That is not a replacement for this camera but only a possibility to take photos of interesting situations. Today a camera is not very interesting in a phone but tomorrow everything will change and K750 is the product of this class.
E.M. I admit the picture quality is acceptable even excellent for an average user. But not so many of them will print these photos and put them into a family album.
A. I apologize for interrupting but I do not agree. We can notice the growth of printing from digital carriers with the spreading of cheap photopinters. And not only in specialized places but at home also. That is not accidental we collaborate closely with HP that is the leader in home printing solutions. And in future we plan to widen this collaboration and any user will be able to send a photo to a printer and get a printed photo at once. That is possible with the help of Bluetooth having integrated a memory card into a printer.
The quality of the photos is high on a PC and even better on the phone screen and we consider the display one of the best today.
E.M. As for me, the screen is not bad but not the best. For instance, Sagem X8 has a more contrast, saturated screen. Model Samsung D500 is a bit better in this parameter. A see no principal differences comparing them with the K700 screen.
A. Note that when speacking about the screen I said "one of the best". It is really comparable to Samsung D500 and that means belongs to the best examples. I won't start word tightrope-walking but even from the existing rival offers there are not so many such screens.
E.M. What is the change of the system connector explained with? Many people say that is an excellent way to make customers buy new accessories.
A. The appearance of Fast Port became a necessity since the previous interface version was really weak and didn't allow getting high data transmission speed. Potentially we could have kept the same appearance of the interface but there is no need in it. Only some users will suffer from it and we feel sorry for that but that is the price for the progress. We did not take any special steps towards activating accessories sales and aren't going to. Our company has very strong positions on the accessory market and their part in sales is really high. Bluetooth solutions are of the most popularity and here there are no wires so, users carry no expenditures and such accessories are compatible with any new products. Wire headsets are comparatively cheap and will be included into a standard kit of many new models.
E.M. We saw a note Memory Stick Duo on the photos leaked out into the network. Is that really true and Pro cards are not supported? And what in general can you say about the memory of the device?
A. We set the same norm of a bit more than 40 MB for the whole model line and you see the same capacity in K600 and K700. The feedback received shows this memory capacity is optimum. First we though of providing more memory with K750 and in October we reconsidered our plans having decided that the presence of a memory card made the device less sensitive to the internal memory. The device supports Pro cards capacious of up to 1 GB. And a 64 MB card is included into the kit.
E.M. Let's come back to the new functions of K750 that were not provided in the previous models by the company. You have told almost everything about the camera. And what else interesting things are present in the phone?
A. Working in a USB-drive mode is one of those interesting functions. A usual cable for connecting to a PC is included into the kit. The card of the device is shown as a separate disk on a PC and you can copy and past any files directly. Our company was not the first on the market to provide this function. And in the next year the majority of the device will have a support for the technology. The question is who will be the first to integrate a support for a wireless USB into the phone and that is a mater of the next year.
And if speaking about really new functions I'd like to stop at this key under the screen that is called Activity menu. We use the notion of various events that may be a missed call, organizer note, a message, and an e-mail message. A combined list shows all the entries though connected with various applications and functions.
E.M. Excuse me, but a similar function is provided in 65-series phones by Siemens and some products by Alcatel.
A. Interface developments take certain time and this function was ready in our phones long before the products by other companies. Another question is that we didn't provide the realization in commercial products. But another policy is acting here and I have described it above partly. Also take into account we have to support the succession of interface generations and we can't transfer from T28 to T610 at once. Gradual changes are necessary and we bring them into our models dynamically.
Speaking about a certain realization of Activity Menu in К750 we can stress the difference from any rival product. First, two additional bookmarks for tags and browser bookmarks are present here. The most used functions are united in one place. We carry out many researches and try to follow customers' demands. The menu realization is logical and it is easy to use.
Second, in this menu you can view applications working in a background mode, they are FM-radio and mp3 player in this model. In future with the appearance of a real multitasking in usual phones the list of these applications will grow. The kind of a multitasking used in phones is being actively discussed. And as for me, that will be a preemptive multitasking
E.M. Does that mean phones will become some kind of smartphones?
A. These are different product classes and despite the miniaturization of the element base making a full-functional smartphone in a usual size body is hard for today that is an art of compromising between desired and possible. Smartphones get more and more functions, working speed and comfort of use increase every year. But usual phones advance in functionality also. From the user's point of view that is not important which operating system is used - an opened or a propriety OS. The user looks at the price and functions the phone provides. Sony Ericsson S700 is a good example of this kind. The model possesses all the modern functions including memory card, mp3 player, 1.3-megapixel camera and a large screen. Often users buy smartphones reasoning from this functionality and that is unclear who would win if they had a choice. We should understand that integrating an mp3 player, a megapixel camera into a smartphone (Symbian or MS Windows, for example) is easier for manufacturers than adding the support for them to their hardware platform. That is a cheaper way but strangely enough it leads to a gradual loss and yielding positions. And now look at К750, that is a real state-of-art example. None of the manufacturers will manage to equip their models with such a set of functions in the nearest future. Our company is one of the strongest on the market speaking about developing and integrating new functions.
Summing up the speech about the phones turning into smartphones I'd like to say we see a convergence. Some phones will achieve smartphone functionality; Java applications will provide a necessary software expansion. At the same time some smartphones will be miniaturized that will make a plainer set of functions. These products will remain on the joint of the two market segments. Developing solutions for own products looks the most expensive, they give necessary time advantage and copying a technology takes time. And we'll have time to prepare something else since that is a long-distance race.
E.M. That seems to be clear with hardware platforms but some functions migrate from model to model without any special changes and, for instance, that concerns a phone book, a radio and mp3 player. Do you think after achieving some certain level there is no need in keeping development on?
A. Development of interface improvements and separate modules is a permanent process. Some of them appear as new software versions for the same phone. And some are lead onto the market with new models. A function succession is necessary inside a product line. As a rule we choose sign product for realizing new functions and improving existing solutions. And then these improvements are copied to other models in a product line.
Some improvements may be unclear to a user and concern working speed of applications, name search in a phone book. And others are on the contrary seen well. You mentioned a radio that is similar to K700 as for you. Look at the menu and this line attentively. An RDS system appeared in the radio and now you can receive the information broadcasted by radio stations that is a unique possibility for a phone. We will probably add some functions using RDS in the next versions and working process will copy the one of car players. That will all depend on what users and pilot testers say.
The functions that were not changed do correspond with an existing development level for phones and thus need no immediate changes. And we really listen to the customers' desires. Many of them complained of the absence of a possibility to assign a personal melody for incoming SMS. We'll realize it in our new products.
E.M. Model Sony Ericsson K750i is the first phone to support a VideoDJ function that is a continuation of MusicDJ. As for me, that is in some kind a version of MMS. How necessary the function is and what new it gives to users?
A. The similarity with MMS is not accidental but in VideoDJ you can save your creation and edit several tracks containing various data at once not depending on whether that is a sound, photos, video or something else. That's impossible to achieve this functionality in MMS. This function is interesting for youth since it is creative and can experiment. Our task was to provide an instrument for these experiments and we consider our functions rather well. Just name a phone with a video editor integrated. There are no such phones on the market, smartphones with exterior software can do it but they are poorly spread and we are talking about a mass technology.
E.M. Speaking about multimedia possibilities of the phone I'd like to ask which improvements concerned mp3 player.
A. Strangely enough that is a Music side button. You can start and stop playing with its help. The phone turns into an mp3 player and you do not need to enter the menu for working with music. The device remembers the last working application similar to the camera, thus if you were listening to the radio then pressing Music will call it again. That may seem not as significant but this improvement increases usability of the phone.
E.M. The polyphony is only 40-tones why hasn't the company integrated a chip supporting 64 or 72 voices? You certainly have such solutions.
A. According to our researches the majority of users set an mp3 file as a call signal (either preinstalled or uploaded later). And thus the quality of representing this format comes to the first place. And if speaking about midi realization then it is not as bad in the phone. We see no great sense in increasing the number of polyphonic tones though will offer improved possibilities in some new products (two loudspeakers, channel separation). The companies not providing mp3 support (some Korean manufacturers) need increasing the number of tones. We offer phones supporting mp3 in great quantities and consider that our strategy. The next step is supporting AAC that takes 20-25 percent less space providing the same quality as mp3.
E.M. Is AAC really important when a memory card allows not saving space? Or that is done for supporting calls in the phones memory and only for them?
A. The support of AAC is necessary since the standard is perspective but mp3 files are more popular. Essentially, the support of the standard is caused by this and memory distribution means nothing. And if speaking about memory cards then they allow keeping any file formats. MP3 compositions kept on the memory card may be used as call melodies and there is no any differentiation between memory types.
E.M. Excellent, I think the entire interesting things concerning the phone have been discussed or you have something else to tell?
A. (laughing) Not as many. I'd like to note we still keep on considering the Mascot Capsule 3D engine very well-taken for mobile devices. This device provides the third version of it. And besides we support a standard Java API for 3D applications (JSR184). Sony Ericsson is the only one to offer both engines for your choice and thus developers, game distributors and customers have a choice that is always a great advantage of a device.
E.M. How long is the battery life in usual European networks? And how reliable the battery catch is?
A. The construction rouses no cavils otherwise we wouldn't produce the phone in this design. Indeed, battery catch is more similar to digital cameras and not mobile phones and speaking about the reliability we ensure - everything is all right. The cover may have a slight backlash in the first examples and in commercial versions it will be removed with some technical contrivances.
Battery life fully depends on what you do with your phone. In case of permanent using radio or mp3, up to an hour of recording video, talks for 2-2.5 hours and games for 30 minutes the phone will work about a day. That is a great load, all the phones on the market behave the same way and our device offers longer battery life. In average we think a user will charge the device once in two or three days talking for 1.5 - 2 hours at all. This is a typical battery life for this class of phones but considering its functionality we can call it practically maximum.
E.M. What is the battery capacity?
A. This Li-Pol battery is capacious of 900mAh.
E.M. Many users were interested in how many colour solutions of the phone will be provided.
A. Two colour solutions are planned for launch as non-operator versions and you can see both of them, they are interesting. For operators the device will be issued in other colours and they will be more eccentric and soft, women a bit. I can't say which solution is better.
E.M. What are operators' responses on the device?
A. You'd better address the question to them directly but we see that the model is being accepted enthusiastically and we hope the device will not only repeat the T610's success but will exceed it having all the presuppositions. We have chosen the right time, equipped the device with the newest technologies and made it available. There are no rivals now and the first similar solutions will appear in 6-8 month and devices getting close to the phones in this or that parameter only in 3-4 month after the start of sales.
E.M. You told much about the dimensions of the phone and that a plenty of possibilities was integrated into a small volume. What is a real size of the phone?
A. To tell the truth I can't remember the data now. Its thickness with the camera cover exceeds 20 mm that is typical of today phones. The weight is about 100 grams (editor's note: in fact we made the values more exact and got the weight of 99 grams and dimensions of 100x46x19.5 mm).
E.M. How many similar products by your company will appear in 2005?
A. I can't tell the exact number but at least 8 models with a similar ideology will appear. And if speaking about the products with the whole complex of solutions provided in this model that is 4 and all of them will appear in the 2Q. K750 is the leader and it will remain it for long. The next step is adding UMTS to the device and the increase of the matrix resolution. The technologies we possess allow getting the resolution of 3 megapixels very fast and we won't have to create a new chassis, body and everything may be placed in the phone having such dimensions as K750.
E.M. How stable is K750 today? That is not a secret that many phones are unstable for the first several months.
A. We have been permanently improving the quality of our products and they are tested in networks much. But the start of the sales means some situation was not modeled and fortunately we didn't come across it. Our products are functionally difficult and thus small not crucial mistakes are very probable. Now these problems are fast to solve and that is about 3 month starting with the first party. The period may seem long but time is spent on selling terminals, gathering information about the refuses, problems, new software releases and testing them. We take actions on-the-fly. To compare, similar woks take other manufacturers 3.5-4 months and even more reaching 7-8 months when the device is in the end of its life circle.
E.M. Thank you much for this conversation. And traditionally we ask to say some words and wished to our readers.
A. Be as critical to new devices and technologies as the Mobile-Review.com editors. Your sensible look at the things helps us manufacturing more qualitative devices that become bestsellers then. Even from the human point of view I don't like reading those "sweet" reviews telling only about the advantages and no negative points. We are sincerely interested in the honesty of our customers.
I'd also like to congratulate you with the spring coming and let it give you more sunny days. And try not to miss the 1 of March since we prepare a real surprise for you.
Only information about Sony Ericsson K750 was included into the review and the main part of the speech concerning the directions of the company development and new tendencies was not included. It is very interesting and we'll think if to report it later. Our interlocutor mentioned the date the 1 of March when Sony Ericsson announces new products that will be reported in details on our site. The interview was so detailed that some of its parts will be included into the Sony Ericsson K750 review later since we got the permission for that. In the course of a week you'll see new photos as well as reviews of all the devices.
Published - 25 February 2005
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