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Industry Report

Industry reports, briefs and video-clips issued by Samsung Economic Research Institute

The Future of Cell Phones

The Future of Cell Phones

KIM Jung-Woo

May 9, 2008


Welcome to our video program. I am Kim, Jung-Woo.

If you ask a man in his 50s what he does with his cell phone, he will probably say, “Make phone calls.” If you ask the same question to someone in their 20s, however, he or she might respond with “video chatting,” “Internet surfing,” “games,” and “music.” Cell phones have undergone many transformations since their birth.

Today, we will look at what cell phones will look like in the future.

Next generation cell phones will soon provide many functions that used to be available only on PCs. Recent cell phones, for example, provide a full web browsing experience wirelessly.

Soon, we will be able to surf the Internet with our cell phones as comfortably as we do on PCs. Skyfire Lab Inc., an American company, recently developed technology which allows mobile Internet at speeds on par with PCs. Fast Internet access is possible because connections are made on the server, leaving the client phone unburdened. VODs in YouTube are available instantaneously, while live video of concerts or vacation scenery can be shared with others in real time.

Many of you already look over print-outs of work on the subway while you take the train home. Now, cell phones are taking over that role, replacing paper. LiveCargo, a

U.S. company, is now working on new functions that allow you to append notes to your Powerpoint presentation with a mobile phone. Around the end of 2008, LiveCargo will deploy new features that allow attaching pictures to voice messages. The time is not far off when we can host full meetings by using mobile phones. As for games, those that used to be played only on PCs are coming to cell phones. Vollee, an Israeli company, is planning to bring ‘Second Life' to mobile devices. ‘Second Life' is an online service where you can experience a virtual world. It is also working on mobile versions of many popular 3D games.

The second characteristic of next generation cell phones is their strengthened mobility and connectivity. People usually use cell phones when they want to be connected to someone while moving. In the future more and more reinforced functions and services will be available to suit this need.

Famous social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook are planning to provide a special service that tells people where their online friends are and what they are doing. These sites have developed location-based programs which broadcast users' whereabouts to their online friends through applications they have downloaded to their phones. Users can also attach messages like ‘out to lunch' to show what they are doing. One Seattle startup, Pelago, is developing a service that helps people on the move to find nearby restaurants and clubs their friends have recommended. Pelago's service, called Whrrl, finds attractions frequently visited through a GPS chip embedded in users' mobile phones. It plots restaurants on the mobile map and highlights restaurants other users have recommended. Since it considers relationships with other users, the restaurants your friends or family members have recommended get more weight. Pelago's service provides personalized suggestions in this way.

So far, we have looked at new functions in next generation cell phones. Cell phones are now encroaching on PCs in functionality. Future cell phones will also enjoy strengthened mobility and connectivity. In a nutshell, future mobile phones are going to play a new role packed with new functions, in addition to their existing role. This does not necessarily mean, however, that future cell phones will make PCs, MP3 players, and game players obsolete. Since people always take cell phones with them, cell phones now require functions like web surfing, text viewing, and games.

Most importantly, user-friendliness will be the most important factor, and not just more and more functions. In other words, any functions cell phones introduce will depend on user friendliness for their success. This is why people started to think of cell phones as web surfing tools only after the iPhone was introduced, even though they could surf the Internet with their phones long before the iPhone. If all the functions mentioned above can work in a user-friendly way, all products will become hit products.

Thank you for watching. I am Kim, Jung-Woo.

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