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Samsung Electronics and Sony Ericsson to Intro New Smartphones at Mobile World Congress

The fast-growing smartphone segment is one that is wrought with intensity as companies continue to fight for the much-coveted competitive edge. Apple’s iPhone is enjoying the limelight, while RIM’s BlackBerry (News - Alert) has done little to allow the iPhone to edge its way into dominating the corporate sector.

Now, Samsung Electronics and Sony Ericsson are doing their best to find their own place in the market. The AFP announced the duo unveiled new smartphones on Sunday in an effort to catch up to market rivals.

On the eve of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, South Korea's Samsung and Swedish-Japanese group Sony Ericsson (News - Alert) showed their new multi-media handsets. The companies hope to be able to eventually reach out and touch Nokia, Apple and RIM, although the battle will be completely uphill.

Set for launch in May, the touch-screen Samsung Wave is said to be the first device fitted with the company’s new mobile operating system, Bada. This OS was unveiled late last year.

'This is a new era, the smartphone era,' JK Shin, Samsung Electronics head of mobile communications business, was quoted by AFP as saying at a launch party which featured a huge video presentation with splashing waves and a live dance act.

'Samsung is committed to making the smartphone era available for everyone. We are committed to making the smartphone era a true democracy for billions of people on all continents in all corners of the world,' Shin said.

The Wave is expected to be the crown jewel of roughly 15 smartphones that Samsung plans to launch this year, according to Jean-Philippe Illarine, telecommunications marketing director at Samsung Electronics France. The company projects it will sell 18 million smartphones this year, tripling last year’s figure.

Samsung claims a 20.1 percent share of the mobile market as of last year, and is considered the world’s number two mobile phone maker after Nokia (News - Alert). This market positioning is according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

The smartphone market is a different story as the company was only actually able to capture 3.2 percent in the third quarter of last year. This ranking is far behind Nokia, RIM and Apple (News - Alert), noted research firm Gartner.

This is an important area of focus for Samsung as the market demand continues to grow. Gartner anticipates smartphone sales will skyrocket 46 percent this year. This is compared to only a 10 percent growth in handsets last year.

The Wave is designed to offer a 3.3-inch long touch screen with a five megapixel camera, high-definition video and the applications store, which will allow users to download games and news programs. The app store is expected to be available in more than 50 countries this year.

Samsung plans to release another five or six other smartphones this year, some of which will be powered by Internet giant Google's Android operating system and a few others with Microsoft Windows.

Mobile World Congress will also be the site for the introduction of a mobile WiMAX (News - Alert) base station and a slew of mobile devices with built-in WiMAX features from Samsung Electronic. Company officials said that the new WiMAX base station, dubbed U-RAS smart, reduces power consumption and comes with enhanced coverage.

In January, Samsung Telecommunication America announced its plans to demonstrate various technologies at the International CES 2010 conference in line with its commitment to 4G wireless technology.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard

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