중앙데일리

Can Koreans make the most of smart phones?

Oct 06,2009
A model showcases the Haptic ChaK (SCH-B900) the 10th in Samsung Electronics’ full touch phone Haptic series, which launched yesterday in Seoul. [YONHAP]
Mobile phones will become less about “calling” and more about “seeing,” at least for local electronics companies in the latter half of the year. But will consumers have the full experience at their fingertips?

Samsung Electronics, the dominant mobile phone maker here with a 55 percent market share, said that their three categories for mobile phones in the second half of the year are “smart phone,” “full-touch phone” and “high definition camera phone.” Through such models as their Haptic series, the company has been launching handsets with wireless data functions, high-contrast, full touch screen phones with large displays this year.

When it comes to large displays, LG Electronics set the bar with its New Chocolate phone, which launched last month in Korea. The full touch screen phone with a high definition liquid crystal display has a 4-inch screen, the biggest screen for a local mobile phone, and a 21:9 display ratio.

“Most full touch screen handsets have a 16:9 display ratio so when users watch a movie on the screen, a portion of the film is cut off,” an LG official said. “Even on the Internet, a 16:9 ratio screen can cut off a Web page.”

Sony Ericsson’s Rachael Android phone also sports a 4-inch touch screen and an 8-megapixel camera. The phone has not launched in Korea yet but an official at Sony Ericsson said that the company is in talks with SK Telecom.

Android phones, which run on a Google-made Android platform using Linux, are rivaling Apple’s iPhone in the global smart phone market. Although both Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics launched their own Android phones globally, neither company has launched them in Korea yet. This June, Samsung Electronics launched the Samsung Jet smart phone, the first touch screen phone to feature Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, in London, Singapore and Dubai. There are no plans for the phone to be sold in Korea.

Until now, Korean regulations on wireless Internet access and location services on mobile phones have limited the market for smart phones. However, the recent step by the Korea Communications Commission, in which it allowed the iPhone to be sold here by making an exception to the law requiring handsets sold here to use domestic location-based technology, is seen as the first step for growth in this sector.

Local experts say that the advanced display technologies for mobile phones will not help the Korean smart phone market grow, unless smart phones including the Android and Nokia’s Symbian platform, are allowed to enter the market.

“Because Korea’s smart phone market is still small, Samsung and LG are introducing their smart phones first in the global market due to profit concerns,” said Lee Sang-dong, researcher at market research company Ovum Korea. “For the local wireless market to develop, telecom companies must provide diverse, cheap mobile services and launch global smart phones.”

Nevertheless, Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics are doing well globally, launching one smart phone after another. Market research firm Strategy Analytics predicts that while Nokia’s third-quarter global market share will fall to 35.6 percent, compared to 38.1 percent during the first quarter, Samsung and LG Electronics will continue to see their global market shares rise, totaling 20.3 percent and 10.6 percent in the third quarter.



By Cho Jae-eun [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]




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