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Who will be in pole position?

Formula 1 sounds like something you’d find on the Boots cosmetic counter, but ever since I heard about Lewis Hamilton I’ve got interested. It's a shame that racing drivers don’t wear shorts like footballers.

People who watch for the racing say that he’s made it exciting, my friend, Jane, however  thinks we’d better make the most of it. Hamilton is so good it’s only interesting because he’s new. The new season starts in March and he’ll be expected to be the top driver and he will be. How dull is that. The whole thing will be a competition to see who is number two.

Will it be the American? Or the Korean? Or perhaps the sort of British child of Swedish and Japanese parents? You see it’s clear that Nokia is number one. The whole mobile phone handset business is a race to see who can be number two.

A good way to get a feel for what is selling you can look at the operator websites. The phones that are pushed hardest are typically the ones selling best. This works even better if you temper the information with the occasional trip into a shop and ask what’s selling. The easiest research in the world is asking the sales people. I’m such a heavy mobile user that I’m constantly called by people trying to sell me a new contract. Usually I play with them “Is the HSDPA 1.8 or 3.6?”, “Does the media player support Janus?”, but I always ask what’s selling well.

 A quick click around Europe and it seems that Nokia is very firmly in pole position. But it’s not Motorola or Samsung up there on the front row: It’s Sony Ericsson. What’s more it’s not cheap phones doing it for them like the W330 or K610, it’s the expensive megapixel jobs like the K850 and the W580.

 It’s taken a while, something like five years, since the marriage of Ericsson and Sony. Plenty of people said that it would be a clash of cultures and end in a messy divorce, but as you can see the beautiful children have proved popular. Sony has been masterful at branding with the Cybershot and Walkman brands, there are more to be unleashed with Bravia and Playstation in the wings.  And then there is the mass of Sony music and pictures for the content play.  The newest child in the mobile phone business is getting used to having second place on the podium.  Given the way this has overtaken Samsung and Motorola maybe the top spot is in sight.

Nokia isn’t used to losing, except when it comes to Formula 1. They sponsored a car called a Tyrrell, which often came last, but that serves them right for choosing something that sounds like a cereal bar.

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