Samsung targets BlackBerry with new phone
By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Electronics is planning to expand its "Galaxy" lineup of smartphones and the next device to trickle down its pipeline has been tentatively named Galaxy Q, according to company sources.
The new smartphone will highlight the series of Samsung devices powered by the Google-backed Android operating system, which is considered the mobile industry's best bet to challenge the supremacy of the Apple iPhone.
Samsung, the world's No. 2 handset vendor behind Nokia, is talking with major North American carriers to launch the new Galaxy.
Despite its impressive overall handset share, Samsung has been reduced to an also-ran in the lucrative smartphone segment, which provides larger margins than conventional phones.
Premium handsets like the Galaxy signify the company's attempts to get rolling in this area.
"Galaxy Q _ based on the Android mobile platform _ will be all about providing simplicity in user experience, although it will still feature a full QWERTY keypad. The full touch-screen phone will also come with advanced social media features," according to an industry source close to Samsung's plans.
"The timing of the Galaxy Q launch hasn't been fixed. Samsung still has things to negotiate with American carriers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless. However, the phone will be on American shelves by the end of year," he said.
However, the source didn't comment on the Galaxy Q's specifications, including whether Samsung will continue to use an active-matrix organic light emitting diode (AMOLED) screen as it had been doing with its premium handsets up to date.
Samsung believes that QWERTY keypad-equipped phones will continue to be popular in the North American market, where mobile-email and social media features are driving much of the smartphone demand.
According to the source, Samsung also plans to launch a QWERTY keyboard-equipped smartphone in Korea soon, which will be powered by the company's own, "Bada," mobile platform.
Galaxy Q for business users?
Samsung is currently pushing a massive global marketing effort to promote the Android-based Galaxy S, which it considers their ``iPhone killer.''
The new Galaxy Q, however, will target the BlackBerry, the smartphone manufactured by Canada's Research In Motion (RIM) that commands a significant share among corporate users.
Apple and RIM are the leaders in the smartphone segment, and Taiwan's HTC seems to be generating buzz as an impressive third player.
However, Samsung aims to surpass HTC by the end of the year and vows to put RIM in striking distance as well.
"It is expected the Galaxy Q will pave the way for Samsung to eat up more shares in QWERTY smartphones in North America, where the Canadian company is leading the way," said the source.
Shin Young-june, as Samsung spokesman, said the company is considering revising its smartphone sales target for this year, which was set at 18 million units.
And the Galaxy S and upcoming Galaxy Q will compose the heart of the company's lineup.
Industry watchers were commenting that Samsung has been suffering from a lack of vision in its smartphone offerings.
"Samsung is aiming at achieving a wealth in smartphone devices, which will also allow it to deploy differentiated strategies based on countries and consumer segments," according to the source.
Separately, Google's Android smartphone operating system has moved up the rankings to fourth place, ahead of Microsoft's Windows Mobile and Linux, in the first quarter of 2010, according to research firm Gartner.
About 10 percent of smartphones sold in the quarter are running Android, which still lags behind Symbian from Nokia and the respective operating systems for the BlackBerry and the iPhone.
Gartner said a 49 percent jump in smartphone sales in the first quarter has helped the global cellphone market grow 17 percent year-on-year.
Smartphones accounted for 17.3 percent of all mobile handset sales in the first quarter of 2010, up from 13.6 percent in the same period in 2009.