'Sorry I'm late Moneypenny, I'm calling from the train'

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The Independent Online
When the latest Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies opens on 12 December, cinema goers will be treated to a new 007 gadget: the "concept phone", writes Roger Trapp. In addition to keeping Bond in touch with his latest love conquest, the handy item also blows up safes, opens doors, sees around corners and drives his car. Ericsson, the Swedish phone company which supplied the item, concedes that such features are not available to the public.

However, with half a billion people expected to be using mobile phones worldwide by the turn of the century, the company is now busily segmenting the market. One model now enables the user - with a flick of the finger - to change the look of the phone and its colour to suit occasions ranging from lying on the beach to attending a formal banquet..

According to Mats Lindoff, director of R&D for the 100,000-strong company, customisation of mobile phones has barely begun. Handsets will get smaller, while an increasing range of functions will be possible. But since it is unlikely that everybody will want every feature, there will, he says, be "products for different kinds of person", and they will choose them "based on their lifestyle".

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