Tuesday, February 23, 2010

KT to Release Free Smartphones Next Week

KT Smartphone
Smartphones are finally going mass market, and the explosion in sales appears to only be fueled as prices continue to fall.

And there seems to be a real chance that the very next smartphone model released by KT, the country's second-largest mobile telephony carrier behind SK Telecom, will be offered in virtually free-phone giveaways.

KT has been generating a massive buzz in the premium phone market since releasing the Apple iPhone last November, a move its arch enemy, SK Telecom, still struggles to match.

KT is looking to continue its hot streak by releasing a series of smartphones powered by the Google-backed Android operating systems, which seems to be the best bet to give Apple and its do-it-all handset a run for its money in the high-end phone market.

And with the company vowing to splurge in handset subsidies to gain a marketing edge against SK Telecom, it appears that KT's next highly-touted smartphone model just might be offered for free.

Next on KT's smartphone pipeline is LG Electronics' ``LG KH5200,'' the first Android-based model released in Korea by the world's No. 3 handset vendor, and basically the local version of the LG GW620 that was released in foreign markets last month.

The handset, which could hit the market as early as next week, is built around a 3.2-inch touch screen, a full QWERTY keyboard and boasts a wide variety of capabilities, including social networking features, GPS, Wi-Fi and supports up to 32-gigabytes in external memory.

It has been garnering positive reviews overseas, which are also resulting in a pre-launch buzz among gadget lovers here.

LG KH5200 is regarded as a budget product among smartphones, with a factory price of around 600,000 won. However, with KT planning to provide around 500,000 won in handset subsides for each model, and LG believed to be chipping in an additional 100,000 won, it looks as if the LG KH5200 will be the first smartphone provided to local mobile users for free.

KT users choosing the carrier's cheapest flat-rate data plan, which charges 35,000 won per month, could get the LG KH5200 phone at the price of around 100,000 won.

However, those signed under plans that charge 45,000 won or more are expected to get the phones for free.

By quickly generating a market for LG KH5200, KT is looking to retain its bright start in the smartphone market and further dent the armor of SK Telecom, which plans to rely on a slew of Android handsets to steal back the momentum.

The success of LG KH5200 is also critical for LG Electronics, as it prepares to compete with archrival Samsung Electronics in the emerging market of Android-powered handsets.

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