By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Samsung Telecommunications America plans to launch at least 18 cellphones in the late-third and early-fourth quarters, when the company expects to offer three more touchscreen-only multimedia phones like Sprint's Instinct, three more messaging-oriented phones equipped with QWERTY keyboard and two more PDA phones based on the Windows Mobile Professional OS.
The company also plans a model meeting full military specs for durability, a model for senior citizens and the company's lowest cost 3G phone to date.
Although Samsung declined to release details, senior product planning manager Silviu Moraru said the introductions reflect "growing segmentation in customer needs."
One segment consists of youths who prefer texting to talking, so Samsung plans a trio of 3G phones that feature slide-out QWERTY keyboard but lack a PDA phone or smartphone OS to reduce pricing. The company declined to specify the 3G technology that they would incorporate.
For touchscreen aficionados, Samsung plans three new touchscreen-only 3G phones using the company's proprietary user interface and local haptic feedback. "There is room in the market for both," said a spokesman of the all-touchscreen models and the planned QWERTY messaging models.
The military-spec phone will also be 3G, but it wasn't clear if the senior citizens phone would be.
Four of eight other low- to mid-tier products will include what Moraru called "our lowest-cost 3G phone." Its price to carriers is in line with the price of phones that some carriers offer for free, he noted. That model is designed mainly for voice use and some texting, although it includes a Web browser. Its intent is to help carriers migrate 2G customers to 3G phones whose packet-based voice technology increases voice capacity, he said.
The number of SKUs planned for launch in the late-third and early-fourth quarters later is in line with the number of Samsung phones launched during the same period in 2007, Moraru said, noting that the company sells into four major carriers, three regional carriers and multiple mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs).
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