By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Electronics said Tuesday that it is developing smartphones customized for professionals at global enterprises, such as Pepsi and Coca-Cola, in a bid to sustain growth momentum in its handset business.
The move came as part of the Korean technology giant's strategy to beef up its business-to-business (B2B) sector to prepare for full saturation of the business-to-consumer market.
Samsung officials said the firm is targeting top-tier marketing-driven firms as it believes its smartphone solutions have reached a level sophisticated enough to serve corporate clients. The company plans to develop software solutions tailored for each company.
"We are actively approaching companies which have big distribution channels like FedEX, UPS, Pepsi and Coca-Cola. Simply put, delivery systems in those companies could be effectively controlled by our customized devices," said one Samsung official in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, where Samsung's main technology compound is located.
The official said Samsung is under increasing pressure to maintain growth momentum in its smartphone business amid an increased preference among consumers for handsets with affordable and competitive hardware specifications.
"That's why Samsung is spending more efforts on developing smartphones for corporate clients. And we are seeking partnerships with global players, such as FedEX, Pepsi and Coca-Cola to raise our leverage in the lucrative B2B sector," another official said.
Customized corporate handsets mean network partners and delivery personnel can check out inventories and schedules via Samsung mobile phones.
"BlackBerry was the king in that territory and we are challenging it," he said, adding its heavy involvement in developing the Knox security solution is also a good example showing Samsung's increased appetite for corporate markets.
"Selling just smartphones and tablets can't guarantee margin sustainability. The B2B business will give us a good chance to get into mobile device management," said the official.
Such a transition will be strongly backed by its impressive performance in mobile sales. Shin Jong-kyun, the head of its mobile business and co-CEO of the company, recently said Samsung was aiming to become the top global supplier of tablets as well.
The top executive expects the number of clients using Samsung's mobile solutions to exceed 200 million by the end of this year and stressed it will open up platforms to partners to entice more corporate clients.
"We estimate that Samsung has a significant margin umbrella over handset competitors due to its hardware lead, cost competitiveness, broad product portfolio and distribution in all regions of the world," said Sanford C. Bernstein's senior analyst Mark C. Newman in a note to clients.