BenQ Mobile unveils first co-branded handsets

BenQ Mobile Tuesday unveiled its first three handsets to carry the BenQ-Siemens logo.

BenQ Mobile GmbH & Co. OHG, the mobile handset unit of Taiwanese electronics maker BenQ, unveiled its first three handsets to bear the new BenQ-Siemens brand on Tuesday at events held simultaneously in Beijing and Berlin.

The flagship of the new lineup is the slim EF81 clam-shell handset, which offers support for W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) 3G (third-generation) mobile services, a Micro SD (Secure Digital) memory card slot, a 2-megapixel digital camera, Bluetooth, and a media player capable of handling video and audio files.

The S88 is a tri-band GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) "candy-bar" phone that includes a 2.6-million-color OLED (organic light-emitting diode) display, a music player, a 2-megapixel digital camera with video capability, a Micro SD slot and Bluetooth. The phone also includes support for PictBridge technology that allows it to connect directly to a printer to print out digital photographs. The more-basic S68 is also a candy-bar phone, with dual speakers and Bluetooth support.

All three phones will be available during the first quarter. Pricing was not announced.

BenQ Mobile said one-third of the 30 or so phone models that it plans to introduce this year will support 3G networks. In addition, 75 percent of the phones slated for introduction in 2006 will offer an FM radio tuner or a music player, and half will include a digital camera with a resolution of 1.3 megapixels or greater, it said.

BenQ announced plans to acquire Siemens's mobile unit in June 2004 as part of a bid to better compete against the likes of Nokia and Motorola. At that time, Siemens' handset business had seen falling sales and had reported a loss for the first half of 2004. For its part, BenQ's contract manufacturing business was losing handset customers as the company placed a greater emphasis on sales of its own brand of phones.

Under terms of the acquisition, the Siemens brand will continue to be used for up to 18 months from Oct. 1, 2004, when the new company officially began operations. BenQ Mobile also has the rights to use the BenQ-Siemens brand for five years.

When the Euro 250 million (US$303 million) deal was announced, BenQ estimated the combined mobile-handset business had a 5.2 percent share of global handset sales, making it the sixth-largest handset maker, with annual revenue of US$5.6 billion.

BenQ has high hopes for the acquisition, aiming to stem losses and make the business "financially stable" by the end of 2006, and double its share of global handset market to 10 percent within two to three years. The company also aims to cut costs at BenQ Mobile by Euro 500 million without laying off any workers.

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