Posted : 2013-01-16 15:25
Updated : 2013-01-16 15:25

Samsung faces Windows dilemma

Overseas carriers shun Windows lineup

By Cho Mu-hyun

Samsung Electronics' Ativ S
Samsung Electronics is facing a bumpy road in a move to reduce its reliance on Google's Android platform as overseas carriers are shunning promoting the firm's Windows lineup, according to industry observers.

The technology giant is currently the flagship vendor of the Android platform, giving it huge leverage in talks with carriers over rollout dates or promotions, a power that only Apple enjoys as well.

It recently announced that its Galaxy S line of smartphones that run on Google's operating system have sold 100 million since their launch in 2010.

Industry analysts said that carriers, such as Spain's Telefonica and U.S.'s Verizon, are intentionally less enthusiastic about carrying Samsung's Windows-running Ativ series, even though Windows 8 is a highly competitive platform. It is to prevent the Korean company from gaining too much leverage power by controlling two platforms.

"Mobile operators don't feel inclined to promote Samsung's Windows phones and obviously want a diversification of phone vendors," said HMC Securities analyst Kim Sang-pyo over the phone. "The amount of subsidies offered and product promotions by carriers are lower for Samsung's Windows lineup compared to Android phones."

The analyst said that carriers will in the end concede to pressure from Samsung Electronics, as the firm will not sit back and see any of its marketing budget, estimated at 7 trillion won last year, wasted.

"Samsung obviously wants to lessen its dependence on Google's Android and is considering Windows 8 as one way to maintain its growth amid the saturation of the Android platform in the market," Kim said. "Windows 8 phones have a great outlook as enterprise phones and can become a good revenue line for Samsung."

Kiwoom Securities analyst Lee Jae-yoon said the Korean technology firm must react well to the market situation and said it will change by next year, with Windows 8 seen as a third player along with Android and Apple's iOS.

"After amending some problems such as slow booting time and optimization to run Microsoft Office throughout this year, Windows 8 will sustain its growth and by next year will have a larger share of the market, especially in tablets," Lee said.

By next year, mobile operators will have to sell Windows 8 phones following market demand with the vendor likely being Samsung. Carriers will have to go along with this, he said.

Analysts generally agree that the tablet lineup featuring Windows 8 is its strong point. "In the domestic market, Samsung's Windows tablet has sold over 80,000 since launching last year, more than the sales of Google's Nexus 7," said Lee. "After Microsoft addresses some of the touch-intensive platform's shortcomings, it has the potential to become the leader in tablets."

The world's largest electronics maker by revenue is likely to pressure partners more into promoting its Windows product line as time goes on.

"People don't buy Samsung phones because they run on Android but because it is a Samsung phone," said an industry official requesting anonymity. "Its strong brand image over rivals will guarantee better sales of Windows 8 devices if Samsung sells them."

Microsoft's next-generation operating system seems caught up in a tug-of-war between carriers and Samsung gaining more saying-power, the official said.

Nokia recently released its preliminary financial information that indicates its outlook is brightening, which industry analysts estimate to be due to the rising popularity of its low-end Windows phones.

"Nokia's returning to the black indicates that Windows phones are competitive products that can stand out in the market place," said Microsoft spokeswoman Lee Sung-yeon. "More and more developers are producing content for our platform and our outlook is positive."

관련 한글 기사

MS, 고래 싸움에 새우등 터지나

마이크로소프트가 `잘 나가는 삼성’ 때문에 시름이 깊어지고 있다.

이유는 간단하다. 해외 통신사들이 삼성전자의 지배력이 더 커지는 것에 대해 달갑지 않게 생각하기 때문.

삼성전자는 구글의 안드로이드를 기반으로 한 스마트폰 진영의 대표 주자다. 특유의 제조역량을 바탕으로 작년 세계 스마트폰 시장 1위에 올라섰고 올해 역시 시장 수요 따른 적기 제품군 확대로 점유율을 더 늘려나갈 것으로 보인다.

삼성전자의 성장세가 뚜렷하다 보니 윈도8 시스템을 탑재한 마이크로소프트의 윈도폰은 `계륵’ 같은 존재가 되어버리고 있는 모습이다.

16일, 업계의 한 관계자에 따르면 ``윈도8 스마트폰이 디자인 및 기능면에서 경쟁력이 충분히 있다는 점은 인정하나, 마케팅을 강하게 걸자니 삼성전자 좋은 일만 시켜주는 것 같아 다소 껄끄러운 것이 사실’’이라고 토로했다.

애플이 부품 조달에 애를 먹고 있고 ZTE, 화웨이 등 중국 저가 스마트폰 업체들 역시 성장 가능성은 있으나 제품 완성도에서 삼성전자에 아직 미치지 못하고 있는 점을 고려할 때 윈도폰의 성공은 삼성전자의 배만 불려주는 꼴이 된다는 것이다.

관련 업계에 따르면 미국 1위 통신사인 버라이즌은 삼성전자가 안드로이드와 윈도우8의 양 플랫폼을 모두 좌우하는 것을 막기 위해 의도적으로 윈도8 폰에 대한 보조금 지급에 소극적인 것으로 알려졌다.

HMC투자증권의 김상표 애널리스트는 ``해외이통사들은 삼성이 양 플랫폼을 지배하는 구조보다 힘의 균형을 위해 다른 제조사가 뛰어들기를 원할 것’’ 이라며 ``노키아 같은 다른 제조사가 윈도우를 미는 것이 유리’’하다고 말했다.

삼성전자는 작년 윈도8 시스템을 탑재한 아티브S 시리즈를 북미 및 유럽 일부 국가에 출시했다. 그러나 이는 마이크로소프트와의 관계를 의식한 탓이 크다.

삼성전자 역시 인텔과 공동 개발하고 있는 모바일 플랫폼인 `타이젠’과 자체 운영체제인 `바다’와의 통합 작업이 막바지에 이르렀기 때문에 조만간 타이젠폰을 출시할 것으로 예상된다.

괜시리 윈도8 핸드폰을 밀어서 통신사들과의 관계를 의도적으로 껄끄럽게 할 이유가 없고 자사의 플랫폼 육성으로 `플랫폼 전쟁’에서 자립할 수 있는 토양을 공고히 하는 것이 더 효과적이기 때문.

한편 자체 플랫폼 개발 계획이 없는 LG전자는 올해 윈도폰를 출시하기로 방침을 정하고 마이크로소프트와 물량 및 시기에 대해 협상하고 있는 것으로 알려졌다.

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