By Kim Tae-gyu
Hewlett-Packard, one of the world's leading computer and printer producers, plans to market its personal digital assistant (PDA)-type phones in Korea late this year.
``We will launch a third-generation PDA phone, dubbed the iPAQ 600, late this year through domestic wireless operators such as SK Telecom and KTF,'' an HP Korea spokesman said.
``The smart phone is based on high-speed data packet downlink access (HSDPA) technologies that enable various next-generation services,'' he said.
HP Korea introduced a PDA phone in 2004 under a business alliance with KT, the country's largest telecom company, and its mobile subsidiary KTF.
However, the model was a one-off product and the iPAQ 600 will mark HP's first genuine attempt to tap into Korea's cellular phone market.
The HP Korea spokesman refused to elaborate on other specifics of the iPAQ 600 but observers expect the model will be equipped with a 2.8-inch display while scrapping the QWERTY input system.
The QWERTY system, named after the first six letters seen in the PC keyboard's top first row of letters, is a computer-like keyboard for painless typing on mobile gadgets.
HP has adopted the QWERTY system on its previous models but its efficiency has been under debate.
HP is expected to make noise with its iPAQ 600 because it is the first smart phone embracing HSDPA, the mobile platform that is gaining steam here.
HSDPA enables people on the road to remain hooked up to the Internet on handheld terminals at the speed of the current fixed-line broadband.
SK Telecom, the nation's No. 1 mobile telephony service provider, and KTF, the runner-up player, embarked on the offerings in Seoul and its vicinity midway through last year.
The two operators, which expanded the service area nationwide in March, have a combined total of more than 1.7 million users signed up for HSDPA over the past year.