Tue, Jun 16, 2009 - Page 11 News List

Rivals bid to trump iPhone at CommunicAsia 2009


Mobile phone manufacturers will show off their most advanced models at Asia’s biggest telecommunication fair this week, hoping to prove they can rival or even better the Apple iPhone.

CommunicAsia 2009 opens in Singapore today, a week after the US technology titan unveiled a new version called the iPhone S featuring a video camera as well as faster connection speed.

Analysts say competitors have been left playing catch-up to the iPhone, which has shaken up the industry and created a legion of new Apple fans drawn to the device’s sleek design, touchscreen interface and myriad of applications.

Thanks to the iPhone, Apple has emerged to become the world’s third-largest maker in the fast growing smartphone segment, selling 18.66 million units since the device hit stores in 2007, technology research house Gartner said.

The stakes this week are high for mobile phone makers because the region is shaping out to be a key battleground as they jostle for a share of the smartphone market.

“If you look at the Asia-Pacific, this is the biggest show in town,” said Marc Einstein, industry manager for mobile and wireless communications with Frost and Sullivan consultancy. “It’s important for them to display their strengths.”

Samsung, the world’s second-largest phone maker behind Nokia, is among the heavyweights at CommunicAsia, where the South Korean electronics giant is expected to unveil its latest innovations including a new smartphone line-up.

LG, another South Korean player, ranked third globally behind Samsung in terms of overall mobile phone sales, is also expected to tout its most advanced wares at the show, as is Sony Ericsson.

Research in Motion (RIM), maker of the popular Blackberry, is also one of the exhibitors at show, but the Canadian company will not be introducing any new products, a spokesman said.

Finnish giant Nokia is not part of CommunicAsia but will hold its own events outside the trade fair.

Smartphone sales are tipped to account for 26.5 percent, or 228 million units, of the Asia-Pacific’s overall mobile phone market, up from 13.74 percent last year, Frost and Sullivan said.

“This rise is primarily due to the fact that the costs of smartphones are reducing tremendously across all individual markets in the Asia- Pacific, with operators subsidizing the price to entice subscribers to experience and use higher value-added data applications,” it said.

Roberta Cozza, a London-based analyst with Gartner, said the iPhone was a major reason behind the growing global interest in smartphones.

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