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[Newsmaker] Samsung mobile chief returns with new Galaxy

SEOUL/BARCELONA, Spain ― Samsung Electronics has fired its greatest shot against archrival Apple, with its new flagship smartphone the Galaxy S6 and its Edge variant being touted as the “most beautiful Samsung phone ever” during the unveiling event in Barcelona.

The new phones use metal instead of plastic, are equipped with wireless charging and advanced camera technology, and feature Samsung’s new mobile payments system. The luxurious makeover is being led by the company’s co-CEO and mobile division chief Shin Jong-kyun.

Largely encouraged by the positive early reaction, Shin never hesitated to express his confidence about the new Galaxy’s strong sales.

“The response is explosive,” he said at an official news conference on Monday. “I’m confident that we will sell more phones in more markets.”
 
Shin Jong-kyun, CEO of Samsung’s mobile division, shows the new Galaxy S6 during the Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2015 event at the Mobile World Congress wireless show, in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday. (AP-Yonhap)
Shin Jong-kyun, CEO of Samsung’s mobile division, shows the new Galaxy S6 during the Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2015 event at the Mobile World Congress wireless show, in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday. (AP-Yonhap)

The new Galaxy launch is crucial not just for Samsung but also for the CEO since the flagship phone is directly tied to the company’s reputation.

After the dismal sales performance of its predecessor, the Galaxy S5, over the past year, there was speculation that Shin would be relocated late last year. But Samsung, under the leadership of vice chairman Lee Jay-yong, didn’t seek a drastic change.

Shin managed to retain his position. Now he has returned strong with the successful debut of the new Galaxy.

At the unveiling event held Sunday on the eve of the Mobile World Congress, which runs through Thursday, he himself took the wraps off the new handsets in front of 6,500 people.

Compared to his previous presentations during major launches, he seemed more relaxed, even making jokes at times. Referring to his English fluency, he joked: “My mother tongue is engineering.”

During the presentation, he pinpointed Apple as the key competitor.

The company put up side-by-side comparisons with the iPhone 6 to show off the upgraded features of the Galaxy S6 such as charging time and photo resolution.

Asked about the rare move of directly addressing a competitor publicly, Shin said: “It was our first attempt. I think Apple used to be more explicit.”

He stressed the initial aims that were communicated to Samsung engineers during the development process.

“For the new Galaxy, we listened to our customers and tried to learn what they really wanted,” he said. “We poured all our resources into creating a new growth momentum.”

He admitted that the competition is getting fiercer and tougher, especially from runner-ups in China, amid rapid market saturation. In elevating both profits and reputation, he hinted that the company would continue “relentless innovation.”

“Following the unveiling event, we have started receiving preorders. The response is better than expected,” he said. “Starting with the official launch scheduled for April 10, we can restore our market share in the high-end market.”

By Lee Ji-yoon and Kim Young-won 
(jylee@heraldcorp.com)(wone0102@heraldcorp.com)
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