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Apparently there were enough hot coals left over from Labor Day to barbecue wireless' most succulent stocks.

Tuesday morning, European wireless heavyweight



weighed in on next year's prospects, indicating that business isn't going to be any better in 2002 than in 2001. Ericsson's conservative expectations and failure to see recovery shouldn't have caused coronaries, but the company's stock fell more than 15% in morning trading as investors learned they were right to fear the worst.

Ericsson outlined its great long-term prospects, but reiterated that for the rest of 2001, the core base station equipment business will see "flat to moderate growth." Chief Executive Kurt Hellstrom then delivered a staggering blow to investor confidence as Ericsson posited that the systems business wouldn't improve in 2002, but would remain steady with sluggish growth prospects. Forget about recovery, pals. Ericsson isn't talking about reorganization troubles; it's already trimming Wall Street's 2002 expectations for the industry as a whole.

Enskilda Securities warned clients that Ericsson's outlook "is clearly below our estimates and the market consensus, thus significant downgrades are in store."


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also got singed by the flame-broiling of Ericsson's shares, falling 3% in recent trading. Nokia's stock has fallen 15% since the start of last week's trading, and Ericsson's price has fallen 27% in the same period.

Nokia is still struggling to make 2002 a rebound year. At the Salomon Smith Barney Tech2001 conference it announced that it would release three new GPRS phones before the year is done. They're not available today, but Nokia offered more specific dates than it has given before. One of three planned phones will be out in September, with a second out for the holidays and a third by year's end.

European wireless carriers already have upgraded their networks the half-step up from second generation to 2.5G, on the way to third-generation networks. All that lacks in the equation is Nokia mobile phones.



and Ericsson have several models on the market already, but the market leader is pulling up the rear.

Nokia has repeatedly said it will have phones by the fourth quarter, but jaded investors have been worried that Nokia won't be able to deliver the phones in time for the 2001 holidays, and that GPRS might not turn out to be enough of a technological advance to blast the industry out of 12 months of doldrums.

Nokia provided answers to the first question Tuesday: The Nokia 8310 will be out shortly, with the Nokia 6310 and Nokia 8390 following soon after. Nokia expects the GPRS handset portion of the mobile-phone market to hit 10 million phones in 2001. Motorola has estimated its portion at around 5 million. It's a start, but it's a tiny slice of the 400 million-unit handset market that isn't expected to grow this year.

So much for leaving the uncertainty of summer for increasing strength in the fall. Don't put your question marks in storage -- the doubts will still be fashionable.