Samsung aims to topple RIM with 50m smartphones
Despite weak Q4 forecast, depressed by DRAM glut, vendor is bullish about handsets
Published: 9 January, 2011
The collapse in the price of DRAM memory chips led to a disappointing forecast for Samsung, but that has not dampened its optimism for its smartphone business. It expects to double its volumes in the smartphone sector - where it scarcely figured before 2010 - and to ship about 50m units this year. And it is preparing to launch its first dual-core models, hard on the heels of Motorola, at next month's Mobile World Congress.
Motorola and LG chose last week's CES to debut their own dual-core smartphones, but Samsung traditionally makes MWC in Barcelona its big spring event, with major launches and huge sponsorship activity around the show and the city.
As well as dual-core models for the Galaxy S Android range, it is expected to expand its tablet range. Samsung leapt early into the Android tablet space, even though the Google OS was not yet fully ready for larger screened devices, so its Galaxy Tab was something of a compromise gadget, designed to give its OEM a headstart. The product has sold over one million units, but more impact is expected once Samsung offers a 10-inch form factor, closer to the iPad, with the new Android Honeycomb release and all its well regarded video capabilities. This will take on Motorola's new Xoom tablet for Verizon.
Speaking at CES, JK Shin, the president of Samsung's mobile communications business, said the company will detail its 2011 smartphone and tablet portfolio in detail in Barcelona and will place heavy emphasis on dual-core. "We will continue to keep our technology leadership this year," he said, as reported by PC Magazine. "In terms of dual-core applications, we already have a program, and next month at Mobile World Congress we will unveil it."
Samsung did not spurn CES altogether - it unveiled its first LTE smartphone for Verizon (though it does have LTE featurephones for MetroPCS and others). It also launched the Infuse 4G, which supports HSPA+, for T-Mobile, and an LTE version of the Galaxy Tab. Samsung has maximized the visibility of Galaxy S in the US by making different variations, with different brand names, for each of the four major operators. It plans to do the same for next generation networks, claiming to be the only vendor with a '4G' handset for every cellco (though that includes HSPA+ as a 4G system).
Samsung had about 9% of the smartphone market as of the end of Q310, up from 3% a year before. It aims to sell more than 50m units - running Android, Windows Phone 7 and its own bada OS - in 2011. This would bring its high end market share closer to the levels to which it is accustomed in the overall phone space. It could certainly displace RIM and broaden the gap with Motorola and HTC, putting it in position to threaten Apple and even Nokia.
However, none of those players will stand still, and compatriot LG will also be trying to boost its so-far lamentable smartphone performance significantly. It has made a good showing with its new, midpriced Optimus One, and it has announced its own targets, to double smartphone shipments to 15m units this year, while seeing 20% growth in overall cellphones.
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