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Multifunctional PDA Phones Becoming Popular

Posted April. 18, 2004 20:57,   


PDA phones, a combination of PDAs and cellular phones, are heating up the market.

As the government has decided to allow corporate financial assistance for buyers of PDA phones in a move to rejuvenate the market, the prices of PDA phones may now drop as much as 25 percent from their original prices.

Consumers who had put off buying a PDA phone, due to skyrocketing prices of 700 thousand to one million won, are now showing interest in purchasing a PDA phone with the recent government decision.

PDA phones can function as a cellular phone, digital camera, MP3 player, e-book, Internet tool, and electronic pocketbook. It is an all-purpose information machine of the digital convergence era.

-- PDA phones in a different dimension from cellular phones

PDA phones can be used as cellular phones, but they are closer to computers. Similar to notebook computers or desktops, PDAs use CPU, memory, and an OS, which allows application programs such as MS Word or Excel to be set up.

Recent products have excellent functionality as computers, since many have a 400MHz CPU and use the “Pocket PC 2003” OS.

PDA phones can also be differentiated from cellular phones by their larger and clearer LCD monitors. They are also convenient, as a touch screen is used.

A shortcoming, however, is that PDA phones are larger than regular cellular phones, and can thus seem bulky and cumbersome when making phone calls.

--All-weather Internet access

A strong merit of PDA phones is that the internet is accessible anywhere, anytime. Unlike cellular phones, which have restrictions when using wireless Internet, PDA phones allow PC level internet access everywhere. Files can be exchanged with PCs, and users can send emails or surf the web. Phone lines or wireless LAN are used in getting Internet access. Wireless LAN functions can be used at hot spots or places with wireless LAN capability, just by adding a wireless PDA LAN card.

--Various multimedia applications

PDA phones have cameras and MP3 players, while some recent PDA phones even have TV or radio access. Although cellular phones restrict the usage of MP3 files without consent of the copyrighters, PDA phones do not have such restrictions, just like regular MP3 players.

Various internet video clips can also be downloaded. If an electronic book is saved from the Internet, the PDA phone turns into an e-book. Multimedia files, such as pictures, video clips, and electronic books can be saved on a memory card and exchanged with other PCs. Recently, there has been an increase in the number of consumers who connect the PDA phone to a GPS device to use as a navigation tool in automobiles.

--How low will the prices fall?

If aid is indeed given for machine purchases, PDA phone prices could theoretically fall 25 percent from their original prices. PDA phones originally costing 700 thousand to one million won could fall to 500 to 600 thousand won, a similar price range to high capacity cellular phones.

However, this can only be true if communications corporations actively assist in giving buyers financial assistance. It is difficult to expect a direct decrease in product prices from SK Telecom and LG Telecom, as they do not yet have plans to give financial incentives to purchase PDA phones. Only KT and KTF, now co-selling “Nespot Swing,” have announced their plans to give buyers financial assistance.

Chairman Sohn Young-tae of the Technomart PDA division says, “As young consumers show great interest in the latest PDA phones, I believe that we can expect a heightened demand for the products when supplementary aid becomes a reality.”

Tae-Han Kim freewill@donga.com