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Latest Taiwanese smartphone highlights industry trend

A much anticipated 3G smartphone from Gigabyte Communications finally launched last week in Taiwan, the slim GSmart S1200 handset with a 3.1-inch WVGA (wide VGA) touchscreen covering its face.

Gigabyte plans to initially market the Windows Mobile 6.1-based smartphone in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan by the end of this month, then expand to other markets in Asia and then on to Europe. The company did not offer pricing information.

The GSmart S1200 highlights several trends in mobile phone development globally and in Taiwan, starting with its Apple iPhone-like design and Windows Mobile OS. Smartphone sales have rocketed this year despite the global recession and the trend continues to grow. Companies around the world have scrambled to jump aboard, with the first Google Android OS handsets shipping last year and PC maker Acer launching its first smartphones this year.

Chip giant Intel has also pushed forward its efforts to put Atom microprocessors in smartphones and other handheld computers.

“The mobile industry is undergoing the biggest change in its 20 year history. A new industry is emerging…it is being formed from elements of the mobile handset industry, the Internet, the PC world, and media and content,” said Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, president and CEO of Nokia, during a conference call Thursday to discuss the company's second quarter earnings.

“As such, competition has been increasing in the smartphone market, as many players rush into one of the few growing consumer markets,” he added.

In Taiwan, Gigabyte Technology joined the fray through subsidiary Gigabyte Communications, while Asustek Computer changed course to work with GPS (global positioning system) leader Garmin in their Garmin-Asus joint venture. Acer bought its way into the smartphone business by acquiring a small Taiwanese developer and other Taiwanese competitors are growing their smartphone businesses by tapping China's huge market, including BenQ and Inventec Appliances.

Most of them have followed the lead of High Tech Computer (HTC) by offering smartphones based on the Windows Mobile operating system, and they have all, including HTC, created their own user interface (UI) for the devices.

Gigabyte is no different. The company created the Smart Pack UI for the S1200, though users can switch to the Windows Mobile UI if they want.

The S1200 works with a number of 3G (third generation) wireless technologies, including HSUPA, HSDPA, WCDMA, EDGE, GPRS and GSM. The smartphone packs a Qualcomm 7200A chipset inside and a 3-megapixel camera outside.

Gigabyte designers aimed for an ultra slim design for the phone, 11.4-millimeters. The handset is 105.5mm long and 52mm wide. The devices sports a number of other features, including Bluetooth wireless file transfer capability, a Micro SD card port, push e-mail capabilities and the ability to be upgraded to the Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional OS, according to Gigabyte.

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