Samsung to Launch Pocket PC Handhelds in 2002

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LONDON (Reuters) – Samsung Electronics said on Wednesday it will use Microsoft Pocket PC software for a new range of handheld computers that will come out next year.

“We’re working closely with Microsoft as well. We’ll bring out a Pocket PC next year,” Samsung Electronics global head of marketing Eric Kim told Reuters in an interview here.

The news comes as Samsung prepares to launch its first handheld computer on the U.S. market, based on Microsoft’s rival software system Palm Inc.

Samsung has so far only produced handheld computers for the Asian market. The new product to be produced with Microsoft software is aimed at a global audience.

The Microsoft link is another blow to Palm which has consistently lost ground to its aggressive rival. In Europe alone, Palm’s market share shrunk in the second quarter to 42.3 percent from 65.4 percent a year earlier, according to Gartner Dataquest.

Meanwhile Microsoft, which will launch a new version of Pocket PC on Thursday, grew its share to 40.9 percent from 13.4.

Japan’s Toshiba is just entering the handheld computer market with Microsoft Pocket PC products this year.

Kim said Samsung will build a mobile phone into all its handheld computers, because as a late entrant to the world market for personal digital assistants (PDAs) it wants to stand out from the rest.

“Wireless is a key differentiator for us. Unlike players such as Nokia (newsweb sites) and Ericsson (newsweb sites) we have both a strong market position in both wireless and electronic devices,” he said.

Samsung is the world’s fifth largest producer of cellphones with a 6.9 percent global market share, behind Siemens AG (newsweb sites), Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia.

Producers of handheld computers, such as Palm, Compaq and Hewlett-Packard knew little about mobile communications, according to Kim.

“Those guys don’t have wireless experience. We think that gives us an advantage,” Kim said. “We want to integrate the two, make converged devices and create new markets,” he added.

Samsung’s market research showed there was strong demand for those integrated computers and cellphones, provided they were small and light enough, Kim said.

“You don’t need two separate lists of phone numbers, you can record voice messages, send messages from your PDA,” Kim said.

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