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Samsung plans new netbook, smart phones

Samsung Electronics Co. plans to follow up its NC10 netbook in the coming few months with a new model and expand its range of smart phones with models based on a number of different operating systems, the company said today.

“In the first half of this year, for touch-screen phones, we will expand our lineup and upgrade some of the functions, including the user interface, and for smart phones, expand our lineup and provide various OSes to satisfy the diverse needs of our customers,” said Chi Young-cho, head of the recently created digital media and communications unit, in a conference call with analysts.

Samsung already offers phones based on the Windows Mobile, Symbian and Linux operating systems. However, most anticipated is an announcement from the company concerning a phone based on the Android operating system developed by Google Inc.

Samsung is a member of the Open Handset Alliance formed around Android, but it has yet to show a phone running on the platform.

Chi also said Samsung plans to “expand our PC business by launching a new netbook.”

No other details were disclosed, although a follow-up to the NC10 has been rumored for a while. Reports late last year predicted that the computer, called the NC20, would launch around February and be based on Via Technologies Inc.'s low-power Nano processor.

If true, that would be a departure from most competing machines, which almost all run the same Intel Atom processor. It would also be something of a coup for Via, which has struggled to gain share from Intel Corp. in the mainstream market for years.

The NC10 was launched in the last half of 2008 and, like most netbooks, is based on Intel's Atom processor and Windows XP. It has a 10.2-in. screen.

Netbooks have become popular with consumers, who like their compact size and low price. The market was created in 2007 when Asustek Computer Inc. launched its Eee PC. It grew quickly, initially attracting fellow Taiwanese competitors, and then major laptop brands jumped into the market.

Earlier this month, Sony Corp., which had not launched a netbook, launched its Vaio P-series machines, which are netbook-size laptops but based on the higher-specification Intel Atom Z520 chip.

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