San Antonio — The Progressive Retailers Organization was at the Westin La Cantera Hill Coun
Fifteen new Samsung handsets that U.S. carriers are launching in the fourth quarter include the industry's first world PDA-phone operating on GPRS and CDMA 1x EV-DO data networks, the U.S. market's first GSM push-to-talk (PTT) phone, and the company's first two RAZR-like ultra-slim phones, which include the industry's slimmest EDGE phone and slimmest EV-DO phone.
Soon after, the company's lineup will include what Samsung contends will be the first commercial W-CDMA (UMTS) handset in the country. It's due in the first quarter for Cingular's expected W-CDMA relaunch.
(See list of new phones at right.)
More than 30 new Samsung phones will have been launched by carriers this year when the quarter is over, said Muzibul Khan, product management and engineering VP. They include seven CDMA 1x EV-DO phones, the first U.S. camera phone with optical vs. digital zoom, and an EDGE “convertible-flip phone” that flips open in portrait mode for traditional phone dialing and in landscape mode for use with QWERTY keyboard.
In 2006, Samsung expects to offer EV-DO Revision A handsets to boost EV-DO uplink and downlink data speeds; W-CDMA phones that incorporate HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) to boost data speeds; and combination EV-DO/Wi-Fi phones that, unlike the current i730, will seamlessly hand-off data calls from one network to the other and support VoIP over Wi-Fi and over EV-DO networks, Khan said. EV-DO Rev. A, he noted, will enable video telephony and instant multimedia messaging, not just instant text messaging.
As for phones equipped with either the DVB-H (digital video broadcasting-handheld) or Qualcomm MediaFLO technologies for digital video broadcasting, Samsung will offer them whenever carriers decide to launch the services. Both technologies will be trialed in 2006.
On the infrastructure and device sides, Samsung will deliver mobile WiMAX (802.11e) equipment that will enable carriers to offer high-speed data services in cellular spectrum or in other spectrum, such as 2.5GHz in the United States. The Mobile WiMAX spec is expected to be finalized by the WiMAX Forum later this year, said network systems VP Tom Jasny. Mobile WiMAX is expected to deliver average throughputs of 1Mbps in both directions for portable and mobile applications at vehicular speeds of more than 73mph, he said. The target is to deliver those data speeds at vehicular speeds of 93mph, he added.
W-CDMA HSDPA will offer download speeds similar to WiMAX but much slower upload speeds, Jasny said.
Beginning this month and through the first quarter of 2006, Samsung is joining Sprint PCS in trialing mobile WiMAX in Sprint's non-cellular 2.5GHz spectrum.
When asked about other suppliers' penchant for unifying user interfaces among handsets, Khan acknowledged “a carrier trend to unify interfaces,” but he warned that a “platform approach” can create phone limitations as suppliers rush to “rapidly develop new technologies.” In addition, Samsung wants to create differentiated handsets to encourage step-up sales and reflect differing capabilities. As a result of these conflicting demands, he said, “We've come to a middle ground.”
In the GSM world, he noted, “there's a lot more unification because the technology is more standardized,” but he noted that with the development of EDGE and W-CDMA technologies for GSM networks, the user interfaces of GSM-network handsets will become less standardized.