By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Electronics, the world's No.2 handset vendor behind Nokia, is aiming to sell 250 million mobile phones in global markets next year, 20 percent more than its projected sales for 2009, company officials said.
The company expects much of the growth to come from premium segments ― such as devices with full-sized touch-screen displays and "smart" phones ― that offer larger margins than conventional handsets.
"The sales target of 250 million has been set internally, which reflects the expected rise in demand for smart phones," a Samsung executive told The Korea Times, Thursday.
"This represents a 20-percent increase from the estimated 210 million handsets we expect to sell in 2009. Our strength in premium phones with advanced components and features will certainly allow us to outpace our competitors."
Samsung sold 158.3 million phones through the third quarter of this year, including 60.2 million in the July-September period alone.
The company is expecting the global handset market to expand by 10 percent next year to 1.1 billion.
Samsung officials had previously said that the company's growth rate in handsets for next year would be at least 10 percent.
Betting Heavily on Android
Devices powered by the Google-backed Android operating system are expected to be the heart of Samsung's smart phone lineup.
The company has also developed its own operating system, Bada, though there are no plans for handsets based on Nokia's Symbian platform.
Industry watchers also believe that smart phones based on the Windows Mobile operating system will account for just 50 percent of Samsung's smart phones next year, a drop from 80 percent this year.
Android-powered handsets are expected to account for about 30 percent of Samsung's smart phone lineup in 2010. Company officials prefer Android operating systems for their processing power and Web browsing speed, and also their advantages in optimizing touch-screen functions and interfaces.
"It is expected that just 20 percent of Samsung phones will use Windows Mobile by 2012," said Greg Roh, an analyst at HMC Investment Securities.
The Windows Mobile camp has been losing steam in recent months with the Android movement gaining momentum.
Taiwanese handset maker HTC, the largest Windows Mobile customer, is also saying more than half of its phones released in 2010 will be powered by Android.
LG Electronics, the world's No.3 handset vendor, has a business partnership with Microsoft in place to develop Windows Mobile handsets, but is also hedging its bets with Android-based devices.
The Android platform, developed by a massive cross-industry alliance led by Internet giant Google, is based on open source Linux software and enables greater flexibility for programmers building applications and features tailored to handsets.
Gartner, a research firm, forecasts Android's share to hit 14.5 percent by 2012, moving into second place behind only Symbian, surpassing Apple and Research In Motion's BlackBerry.
"Samsung will adopt the Android mobile platform for more of our upcoming smart phones in next year. But we are well-positioned to both use Windows Mobile and other platforms. Android is one of them," a Samsung spokesman said.