Technology advances, additional delivery methods and data-service demands bode well for plastics processors working on mobile telecommunications devices while the market appears to be rebounding from a slow 2009.
Internet search specialist Google Inc. of Menlo Park, Calif., introduced its next-generation smart phone, the Nexus One, with an Android mobile operating system. HTC Corp. of Taoyuan, Taiwan, manufactures a previous Google smart phone that was based on Microsoft Corp. software and is expected to produce the new Google device, which debuted Jan. 5.
HTC develops and contracts to make phones using the Android mobile-device platform for marketing mostly under the private labels of handset manufacturers and mobile network operators. The Android system is gaining strength in the mobile communications market and competes with iPhone products from Apple Inc. of Cupertino, Calif., and BlackBerry devices from Research In Motion Ltd. of Waterloo, Ontario.
Meanwhile, the Foxconn Technology Group of Tucheng City, Taiwan-based Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd., continues to gain contract-manufacturing projects including Apple's anticipated fourth-generation iPhone, probably with a five-megapixel camera and possibly an electronic-reader-style tablet display informally being called an iSlate.
E-readers using wireless technology are giving a boost to the market for plastic molded electronics devices.
Foxconn manufactures the Kindle e-reader for Amazon.com Inc. of Seattle. Other electronic-paper devices include the Nook from Barnes & Noble Inc., the Reader from Sony Corp., the iLiad from Dutch firm iRex Technologies, the Hanlin from Tianjin Jinke Electronics Co. Ltd., and the Cybook from Bookeen of Paris.
Another active contract-manufacturer and mobile-phone developer, Acer Inc. of Taipei, Taiwan, plans to begin delivering smart phones in Japan this year, and making third-generation units for telecommunications operators China Mobile Ltd. and China Unicom [Hong Kong] Ltd., both aimed at China's mainland market. Acer may introduce as many as six smart phones with the Android system in up to three pricing levels during the first half of 2010.
The roles of the Google phone and the Android system, along with continued global growth of mobile data devices, will be the market's biggest business-development stories of 2010, according to a recent survey of industry players by Chetan Sharma Consulting in Issaquah, Wash.
Sharma, a mobile data consultant and strategist, said telecommunications systems operators could achieve significant growth through high per-user revenue from data services like smart phones or integrated devices such as the iPhone, Storm, Hero, INQ, Mytouch, Cliq, Droid and N97. Also, lower prices for smart phones could open the market to a range of consumers who want greater access to social networking sites, search capabilities and voice-over-internet-protocol technologies, he said.
In the increasingly competitive smart-phone niche, Apple is the gold standard to beat, Sharma said. But he named Nokia Corp. of Espoo, Finland, along with Apple, RIM, and Samsung Group's electronics subsidiary in Seoul, South Korea, as candidates for the top mobile-industry original equipment manufacturer in the new decade.
Leading rival U.S. wireless services from AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. each gained market share during 2009 at the expense of competing technologies from Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA.
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