Samsung to Push Google-Powered Handsets Here

Android Phone for Christmas?
Samsung Electronics, the world's second-largest handset vendor, said it plans to introduce mobile phones powered by the Google-backed Android operating system in South Korea. "We are engaging in talks with local mobile carriers over the possibility over selling Android-based handsets. Basically, our goal is to support any mobile operating system if consumers want it," Shin Jong-kyun, a Samsung executive vice president and head of the company's mobile communications division, told reporters Tuesday. In a news conference held at the company's headquarters in southern Seoul, Samsung was introducing five new handsets that represent the latest lineup of its Omnia premium "smart" phones, which enable Web browsing and multimedia features on top of voice. Shin declined to comment over when the company expects to see its Android-based handsets hit local shelves, but company insiders say the first phones could come out by the end of the year or in January. iphone crowds Electronics makers have been competing for supremacy in smart phones, which feature Web browsing and multimedia features, as they offer higher margins compared to conventional handsets. Apple has been leading the smart phone wars in recent years with its iconic do-it-all iPhone, and the App Store, an online applications service. This has electronic makers and wireless carriers desperately seeking ways to beat Apple at its own game, and they are ready to bet that the Google Android operating system could be the answer. The Android platform, developed by a massive cross-industry alliance led by Internet giant Google, is based on open source Linux software and enables greater flexibility for programmers building applications and features tailored to phone Handset vendors such as Samsung promise that their Android-powered mobile devices will allow users a seamless transition in Web services from their desktop computers to mobile phones. Currently, more than 32 mobile carriers in 265 countries are providing Android-based phones and the number is expected to grow, giving companies like Samsung a fighting chance against the iPhones and Blackberries of the world. Aside from Samsung, U.S. handset maker Motorola and Taiwan's HTC also consider the Android platform as their key weapons in the smart phone wars. It remains to be seen whether the Google-backed operating system will be able to gain a significant chunk of the global mobile market, industry watchers say. The success of Android-based handsets and services will depend on the number of partners the Android community is able to gather, experts say, and the open-source nature of the technology collaboration means that relationships will not always be in lock-step. Also, third-party developers, who build and sell software applications for smart phone users, have mostly been developing products for the iPhone and it bears further watching whether Android-based handsets will ever get to have such a vast content pool. Nonetheless, Shin predicts a bright future for Samsung's Android-based handsets, with the market for smart phones ripe for an explosion in developed markets."Smart phones will be the new global trend in the mobile category. Users will be able to access a richer collection of content through the smart phones, opening up a totally new experience for them, and we have been putting in constant efforts to improve on our smart phone lineup," Shin said. "We are looking to boost the shipments of our latest Omnia handsets, which we believe will generate a buzz and find significant demand. Apple's iPhone has some competitive edges, but we are confident that Omnia phones are better in functions and the variety of features they can support. We may see countries where Omnia phones outsell the iPhones,'' he said."The company plans to be aggressive in its marketing efforts for the Omnia handsets ahead of the high-demand season around Christmas." Shin also said that the company is likely to meet its annual target of 200 million in handset sales for 2009. "We are likely to pass the 200-million mark, and our operating profit from our handset business will grow in double-digit rates as our global market share will finish the year at north of 20 percent," Shin said. Samsung is looking to expand the coverage of its mobile application store to 24 countries next year from the current four. The massive success of Apple's App Store has rival tech giants racing to introduce me-too products, and Samsung is one of them. Apple users have downloaded more than 1.8 billion programs in a little more than a year, and the store has become a significant driver of sales for the iPhone. Samsung, along with RIM, Microsoft and Nokia is also rolling out online stores for users to browse, buy, download, and install apps on their handsets.Read More......


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