Building on the success in the market for premium smartphones last year, Samsung Electronics Co. hopes to make a splash in the mid-range smartphone segment, the president of its mobile business said Wednesday, as smartphones are expected to quickly become a mainstream device.
At the center of its push into the smartphone mass market will be the Android system and "bada," the company's 1-year-old proprietary mobile software, Shin Jong-kyun, Samsung's mobile president, said in a written interview with Yonhap News Agency before a tech gadget fest in Las Vegas, the United States.
Shin Jong-kyun, president of Samsung Electronics' mobile division, at bada Developer Day (Yonhap News)
"Bada phones are expected to reach accumulative sales of 10 million units by the end of June," Shin said. "Bada phones are anticipated to make a huge contribution to Samsung's overall smartphone sales in 2011."
Samsung, which is the world's second-largest mobile phone maker after Finland's Nokia Corp., aims to double its annual smartphone sales to more than 50 million units in 2011 by launching new tablets and smartphones ranging from high-end to low-cost devices.
The Galaxy S phone, the company's flagship device for 2010, which runs on Google Inc.'s Android, met Samsung's sales target of 10 million units in the first seven months of its debut, becoming the company's best selling smartphone model. Within less than one year since the company first mounted a serious challenge to Apple Inc.'s dominant position in the lucrative high-end phone tier, Samsung has begun to reestablish itself as an important smartphone player, not just a strong maker of mobile hardware.
The 4-inch Galaxy S phone was priced at over 900,000 won (US$800), making it one of the most expensive mobile gadgets that play music files, videos and connect to the Internet around the clock.
The phone's premium price and robust sales helped Samsung revive its operating profit margin to a double-digit number and engineer a turnaround.
In a recent management reshuffle, Shin, 55, was further tasked with overseeing the company's network business while his counterpart at LG Electronics Inc., the world's third-largest cell phone maker, was replaced.
But in 2011, Samsung will strive to notch another win with mid-range smartphone devices that cost less than 600,000 won, the president of its mobile communications division said.
"We plan to build a full line up from premium to mass market models, releasing a number of devices to meet rising demand from emerging markets as well as advanced markets," Shin said.
The mid-range smartphone segment is forecast to drive the growth of the overall smartphone market in the next several years.
According to market researcher Strategy Analytics, the global market for mid-range models between $100 and $200 is estimated to surge to $28 billion, or 68 percent of the overall mobile phone market, in 2014 from $7 billion in 2010.
Meanwhile, the market for high-end models priced over $300 is expected to shrink from $56 billion last year to $50 billion in 2014.
Nokia, Motorola Inc. and Research In Motion Ltd. are among the global mobile vendors that have responded to this trend by rolling out cheaper models.
Samsung, which launched its first mobile software, bada, at the end of 2009, introduced five bada-running phones in 2010, including three devices that were titled mid-range. With a touchscreen, Web surfing, phone applications and other features of the smartphones offered at an affordable price, the devices received upbeat responses in the European market, Shin said.
Samsung plans to release additional bada-based models this year that target the mid to lower brackets of the smartphone segment, he added.