Pantech unveils first Android-based smartphone in S. Korea
By Lee Youkyung
SEOUL, April 14 (Yonhap) -- Pantech Co., South Korea's No. 3 handset maker, unveiled Wednesday its first Android-based smartphone, betting on Google Inc.'s mobile operating system to expand its share in the local high-end smartphone segment.
Pantech's new model "Sirius," which will be the third Android phone made available here, is tailored to the South Korean market, the company said, with an emphasis on social networking services and Web browsing.
Android, initially developed by Android Inc., a firm later purchased by Google, is a software stack for mobile devices that includes an operating system and other key applications.
The phone's 3.7-inch screen displays all content available on the Web, including Flash videos by Adobe Systems Inc. that are not supported on Apple Inc.'s iPhone or iPad. Adobe's Flash, used to display multimedia on Web pages, is widely prevalent among South Korean sites.
Powered by a 1-gigahertz snapdragon processor from Qualcomm Inc., the fastest chip available in the market, the forthcoming model is priced at 900,000 won (US$807) and is scheduled to be offered by SK Telecom Co. later in the month.
The company's executives predict that the Android phone market in South Korea has the potential to compete with Apple Inc.'s iPhone, which topped 500,000 in sales in four months. Pantech aims to focus on the Android system for its smartphone business, with up to 10 models expected to be released this year.
Pantech, which absorbed Pantech & Curitel Communication Inc. as of January, sold 3.35 million handsets last year, trailing Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. in the local market. It did not disclose a sales target for this year.
The company is currently "in talks" with several overseas telecom carriers, including AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Japan's KDDI Corp., to bring its Android smartphones to offshore consumers, Park Chang-jin, executive vice president and head of marketing, told reporters.
Pantech and Pantech & Curitel have been put under a debt rescheduling program since a 1.28 trillion won bailout by the state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB) in 2007. The company, which posted 10 consecutive quarters of profits into the fourth-quarter of last year, aims to chalk up 5 trillion won in annual revenue by 2013 as it expands its businesses in Europe, China, India and Southeast Asia.