Samsung: narrower range, bigger share


Samsung is going to restrict its portfolio as it focuses on mid-range and key areas such as music and B2B. As it unveiled its 2009 roadmap, Samsung stated its intention to continue to lead in the ‘touch’ category, as well as with ‘style’ and ‘slide’ models.

The manufacturer also intends to remain strong in offering good value handsets on contract and prepay, having shipped over one million J700 handsets in 2008.

Samsung UK and Ireland general manager Derek Williamson (pictured) said Samsung had learnt a lot of lessons from 2008, while 2009 would see it attempt to grow in the B2B segment as well as consolidate its gains in market share.

Another area it will work harder in is the (candy) bar market, with an acknowledgement that this has been a weak aspect of the business.

“We let competitors gain share with candybar handsets and we’re not going to make it easy in 2009,” said Williamson, citing a market-leading GfK ranking for year-end.”We will consolidate that position.”

He said: “It’s been a three-horse race for the last six months and the aim is to find a way of breaking away and getting blue sky between us and the others.

“B2B has huge potential for growth and music will be important this year. We have a balanced portfolio [for 2009] and if anything it has a bit more focus on the mid level. There’s going to be pressure on everyone as there will be a lot of people holding on to their contracts but there will still be demand for mid and high-end handsets.”

The new range of devices to be released in 2009 will follow a new ‘design DNA’ that begins with the recently announced Tocco Ultra Edition, its flagship for March launch.

The S8300 will feature an 8MP camera, GPS, HSDPA (7.2 Mbps) and 2.8” touchscreen, as well as including a 3×4 keypad in its slider design.

The handset will be launched with a £5 million advertising campaign in the UK and Ireland, which will include the buying up of advertising sheets within 100 metres of mobile retailers.

“Everyone is incredibly excited about the handset,” said Samsung UK and Ireland general manager Derek Williamson. “The handset will be available through all channels but we’ve had some calls for exclusive colours from individuals.

“It’s a fantastic device with a new design that will set the standard. It has a more traditional look and feel to that of the Pixon, for example, but still has all the functionality of a top of the range handset.”.

Samsung has no plans to launch its own music service or store, but will concentrate instead on pushing ease-of-use and sound quality to attract consumers.

Deals with Bang & Olufsen and Dolby, as well as shipping models with good quality headphones, will help establish Samsung as a credible brand.

Williamson said most manufacturers would be reducing the size of their portfolios and that Samsung would be following this approach by focussing more on a series of flagship devices.

“One of the things we are trying to get better at is looking through the lifecycle of products,” added Williamson. “In 2009 we are going to put more energy into big flagship and hero devices and carry them forward with refreshes such as colour variants in separate channels.”