Samsung upbeat on African growth
Samsung is planning to expand its operations into the rest of Africa from 1 January 2011. The move will target the small and medium enterprise space and is expected to boost Samsung's Africa revenue by 40%.
Thierry Boulanger, Samsung's director of IT and office automation for Africa, explains that the company is already well-established in SA and is now looking to different markets in the rest of the continent.
“We are now achieving what we first set out to do. We currently have 12 distributors in Pan Africa.
He adds: “Samsung has invested a lot in the infrastructure and groundwork in Africa, and we now need to start the engine. In the past, we've put a lot of emphasis on the consumer space and now we are moving into the B2B [business-to-business] space. We are now preparing incentives for our partners and are engaging with various resellers.”
Boulanger admits Samsung is not a traditional IT company and has decided to expand its focus from being solely a consumer product company, to spearheading a B2B unit.
“Samsung has been successful in the consumer space, but now we have recognised that we need to start playing in the B2B space. We want to move to the next level by getting into the African business space that will be represented in all of the major sectors on the continent.”
Boulanger adds: “We know that we don't manufacture servers or networking products. But we believe that our product portfolio will change the dance floor because we are offering different solutions.”
Demand for tablets surge
Samsung will be driving thin client-based solutions as well as solutions involving its Galaxy Tab. “Our first priority is to spearhead solutions into the retail sector of Africa and the second priority is to create a solutions arm and to partner with other companies that can offer complementary products.”
According to Boulanger, Samsung has received a high customer demand for its Galaxy Tab. He notes that application appeal has been behind the demand for the device and that it's no longer about the hardware, but more about software.
“In mature countries, sales are being led more by service and software as opposed to hardware. Hardware is becoming more incidental. The Galaxy Tab is more expensive than the netbook, but we believe by 2013, it will be on par or start exceeding the sales of the netbook worldwide.”
Boulanger believes that netbooks will eventually be absorbed into the tablet environment.
“There are mobile networks in Africa, and in certain cases they are better than networks in developed markets because they have skipped a technology generation. And this is where we see the opportunity to offer tablet devices and WiMax technology, and this will be a big opportunity for the African market.”
In addition to its business strategy, Samsung reveals that it will be introducing IT brand stores - similar to the likes of HP - into African regions. The electronics company has already introduced several brand stores into SA and has now set its sights on the rest of the continent.
“The initiative,” says Boulanger, “is a big push for Samsung. We've appointed ten parties in sub-Saharan Africa. Our planned introduction for opening will be in February next year. The locations have been identified. We will roll out stores in Nigeria, Malawi, Angola, Mauritius, Reunion, Senegal, Cote d'Voir, Ethiopia and Sudan.”