Samsung of South Korea has announced that it is going to triple the number of smartphones it will ship this year as it moves to further boost its market share and increase competitive pressure on rivals. Martyn Warwick reports.
Samsung forecasts that it will ship some 18 million smartphones this year in an attempt to become the world's leading provider of the devices. Last week, Shin Jong-Kyun, the head of Samsung's mobile division, said, "There's going to be a big change in our smartphone strategy this year. We plan to strengthen that part of the business not just by improving our hardware offerings but also by beefing-up content, applications and services."
Over the past years Samsung has clawed its way up through the global rankings from also-ran to second place and is intent on deposing Nokia of Finland from its top spot.
However, the Korean company has set itself an immense challenge. The statistics for mobile phone shipments for 2009 show that top dog Nokia, despite having lost some of its pedigree gloss, still managed to ship close to 100 million more mobiles than did the Korean company.
Samsung now has a 20 per cent global market share in mobiles but evidently believes that to become a realistic challenger for the Number One spot it will have to choose carefully the terrain upon which it will fight.
It seems the first of these is on the smartphone front, where Samsung has only a tiny presence with less than three per cent of worldwide market share.
And, of course, the focus of the handset market has shifted away from the "traditional" players since Apple and Google entered the market while Research in Motion (RIM) the company behind the still niche but increasingly popular Blackberry smartphone continues to go from strength-to-strength.
So, Samsung has chosen to fight on a difficult battleground against massive forces already encamped there, but its a fight worth the waging. The research house Gartner estimates that between 2009 and 2012 the smartphone market will treble in size. 179 million such devices were shipped last year and Gartner forecasts that this will hit the 525 million level within the next three years - and smartphones, with their data-heavy capabilities, are a very lucrative sector.
Samsung's smartphone strategy seems to be based around the further development of the company's very own smartphone platform "Bada", but, so far at least, Bada has had minimal impact on handset vendors and developers since its launch late in 2009 and is unknown to subscribers except in Samsung's home market where it has been hyped to the heavens in recent months.
The current worldwide ranking of handset manufacturers is Nokia, Samsung, LG Electronics, Motorola and Sony Ericsson. It seems that, in the short-term at least, Sony Ericsson and and Motorola (both now shadows of their former selves) will be the one's to suffer first if Samsung's new emphasis on smartphones works, but you can be sure Niokia will be looking over its shoulder as its far Eastern rival continues to gain ground.
Like the man said, this is a marathon, not a sprint.
please sign in to rate this article