Samsung plans to launch a new service and handset that allows customers to receive up to 40 television channels on a mobile phone. The launch of both the service and the handset, called the Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB) phone, is set for the third quarter of this year.
At first, the phone and service will be available only in South Korea, but the company often brings phones to other markets after assessing domestic sales, said Ike Chung, vice president of mobile sales and marketing for Samsung, in an interview with CNet News. He added that Samsung developed the chip that makes the DMB service possible.
Several phone manufacturers already sell handsets that can receive and send personal video and TV broadcasts over a cellular network. However, with traditional methods, high cost is a major problem.
“Watching a 90-minute soccer game costs about $260,” said Sauk-Hun Song, a principal analyst at research company Gartner.
Carriers offering DMB service will likely charge a more affordable flat rate for it, he said, adding that SK Telecom, a local carrier, is expected to launch a DMB satellite soon.
Samsung came out with a phone last year that can receive TV signals from terrestrial stations, but typical over-the-air broadcast transmission limits the range and scope of programming.
The company is concentrating on three types of high-end phones: multimedia phones that can serve as mini entertainment centers, phones that can double as PDAs (personal digital assistants), and PDA lite phones that contain the key ingredients of PDAs, such as calendars, but without the same girth.
CNet said the laundry list of features that a multimedia phone might contain remains difficult to assess. One idea involves putting enough storage on a phone so that it can serve as a home stereo unit. Users could simply pop the phone into a cradle and their digital music vault would be played through speakers in the home. Phones could also become terminals for buying entertainment, with features including video and audio on demand built into the phone.