Posted : 2010-02-04 17:08
Updated : 2010-02-04 17:08

Samsung Aims to Beat Taiwans HTC

Models pose with Samsung Electronics’ first Android mobile phone at the “Anycall Media Day,” Thursday. The phone, which offers a video conferencing function, will make a first local debut in late this month.
/ Courtesy of Samsung Electronics

By Kim Yoo-chul
Staff Reporter

Samsung Electronics aims to overtake Taiwan's HTC Corp. to become the world's No. 4 smartphone brand by the end of this year, the company's mobile division chief said.

In a press conference Thursday, Shin Jong-kyun said his unit will triple shipments in 2010 to more than 18 million.

"Samsung plans to sell 18 million smartphones this year, up from 6 million last year," the top executive told reporters.

The president said Samsung will roll out handsets based on its own mobile platform, "Bada" (ocean in Korean), in March. It will boost the portion of phones using its operating system (OS) and Google Inc.'s Android OS rather than Microsoft's Windows Mobile.

Market research firm Strategy Analytics (SA) predicts the global smartphone market will grow by 28 percent to reach 230 million in 2010.

If Samsung achieves its ambitious goal, it is expected to become the world's fourth-biggest player with a market share of 8 percent.

Last year, Nokia, Research in Motion Ltd. and Apple Inc. remained the top three for smartphones, followed by HTC Corp. Samsung was the world's No. 5 brand in 2009 with just a 3 percent share.

The company's key project in 2010 will be how to narrow the gap with the front-runners in the market. Although Samsung is the runner-up to Nokia in the overall handset industry, it holds very small piece of the smartphone segment.

"It is clear that there will be a significant change in our strategy this year," Shin said, adding Samsung will beef up both hardware and software offerings such as content, applications and services.

The company plans to launch its first Android-powered smartphone in the domestic market in late February or early March, Shin said.

The Android smart phone has already been available in overseas markets since July last year. Android is a mobile operating system which offers a number of enhanced services to users.

Major phone makers are unexpectedly busy strengthening their smartphone businesses inspired by rapid consumer appetite toward the high-end devices. Smartphones are acting like PCs. Users could easily download mobile content from application stores and experience Web-surfing.

"Samsung's confirmation for an aggressive strategy means the segment will become ultra-competitive this year," Kim Chang-jin, an analyst at Hanwha Securities said.

"The smartphone wars will be good news for consumers. But the fierce competition will inevitably place downward pressure on vendors' pricing and margins," Kim added.

Samsung earlier said it plans to achieve a profit margin of at least 10 percent from phones this year. Smartphones will lead growth in key markets such as North America, while demand for regular handsets in emerging markets will also recover, a company employee said.

Upbeat Annual Target

Shin said the company plans to sell 270 million handsets in 2010, an increase of 19 percent from the previous year's 227 million.

"The global handset industry will grow by 6 or 7 percent. But Samsung aims to achieve a double-digit growth in terms of shipments this year. We will sell over 270 million," the executive said at the conference.

SA predicts the global handset market will grow by 7.6 percent in 2010 to reach 1.2 billion.
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