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July 6th, 2000

[10:00 AM] Samsung MP3 Phone To Offer Mac Support...Kind Of
by Kyle D'Addario

Samsung Electronics has been in the mobile phone market for a number of years, but have recently made their mark with the introduction and release of the SCH-3500/8500 models in North America. Both of those models are CDMA phones, and are sold and supported on the SprintPCS digital network. Following on the heels of the success of those models, Samsung is preparing to take the next step in "cool" mobile phone technology; an MP3 playing phone. Scheduled for release in time for the holiday shopping season in Latin America, the CDMA based SCH-M105 will provide all the features that we have come to expect in mobile phones, as well as a fully functional MP3 player.

The Samsung web site currently advertises the European version of the phone, the SCH-M100, which is a GSM capable phone, a protocol not currently used in the United States. The CDMA version, however, would be ready for release on current CDMA networks, including the previously mentioned SprintPCS network.

While MP3 support is nice, will the phone be compatible with the Mac OS? Samsung representative Kwang Baek says yes. "The Latin American version of the phone will ship with two drivers, one for Windows and one for Mac." All is not rosey, however, as this incarnation of the phone will support only bi-directional (parallel) connectivity. Mac support can be gained with a USB to parallel solution (shown possible with InfoWave's PowerPrint).

Samsung has big plans in store for the Mac, however. Mr. Baek said that the next version of the phone will have native USB connectivity. Mr. Baek also said, "We are also planning to use Blue Tooth and skip IrDA." Blue Tooth is an emerging wireless standard for LANs, providing greater range and flexibility than point-and-shoot IrDA.

While the MP3 phone is an intriguing item, Samsung is also planning to release a phone that functions as a digital camera. The SCH-V200 will ship with a 1.5" color TFT LCD display, allowing users to have full color previews of pictures. Connectivity options are not known for this model, which is planned for a summer launch in Korea.

You can find more information about Samsung mobile phone products at the Samsung web site.

The Mac Observer Spin: Having to compete with such established industry heavyweights as Nokia, Erikson, and Motorola, Samsung has taken the "gadget" approach to making mobile phones. Two Mac Observer staff members use Samsung mobile phones, and love them. To see a breakthrough product, such as the MP3 player phone, have at least some type of Mac compatibility from the introduction is a good move by Samsung, and a happy day for Mac users. When the next wave of "gadget" phones ship with native USB support, you can be sure that Mac users will gobble these phones up.

Mac users have always been on the cutting edge, and will gladly support a company that supports them. Now we have to hope that there will be North American versions of these great products. :-)


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