Samsung SA readies launch of affordable 5G phones

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Samsung Africa president and CEO Sung Yoon.
Samsung Africa president and CEO Sung Yoon.

Samsung Electronics SA is preparing to introduce more affordable midrange, 5G-enabled phones locally, in a move aimed at increasing its market share and maintaining its lead in SA’s smartphone market.

The South Korean multinational telecoms giant says while the global lockdowns caused closures and slowdowns at its stores and production sites around the world, its local operation responded to challenges through its global supply chain, minimising the impact of the pandemic on its business by strengthening online sales channels and optimising costs.

Samsung SA notes that despite SA’s decline in consumer spending as a result of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company witnessed steady growth in its Samsung television and smartphone ranges in Q2 2020.

In a telephonic interview with ITWeb, Samsung Africa president and CEO Sung Yoon pointed out that althoughglobal market research reports for Q2 2020 show that for the first time Huawei has overtaken Samsung as the world’s biggest smartphone maker, in SA Samsung remains unshakeable as the leading smartphone maker.

“I can tell you that Samsung has consistently maintained its lead position for the past few years in SA and even during the lockdown period every week, we have remained at number one.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a challenging time for businesses and consumers alike, but Samsung showed good performance, particularly from May, when the hard lockdown was lifted, where we took between 15% and 20% market share in SA across our smartphone, TV and appliance markets.”

According to Samsung’s analysis, SA’s consumer shopping trends amid COVID-19 indicated a reflection of shopping trends observed by the telco during the 2008/2009 recession period, when Samsung picked up an additional 10% market share, as a result of consumers buying more Samsung TV sets, mobile phones and essential appliances, such as fridges, even during an economic catastrophe.

“Generally, during a recession, consumers hold back on their spending because of economic difficulties and contributing challenges. But we have observed that because of the longevity and guaranteed warranty on our products, South Africansare still willing to save up for up to eight months before buying a Samsung product,” notes Yoon.

Globally, Samsung Electronics reported $44.7 billion in consolidated revenue and $6.9 billion in operating profit for the second quarter ended 30 June.

Its quarterly operating profit rose 26% from the previous quarter and 23% from a year earlier.

5G future

A newly released International Data Corporation (IDC) report showsAfrica's overall mobile phone market saw shipments decline 6% quarter-on-quarter in Q2 2020. Transsion brands (Tecno, Itel and Infinix) continued to lead Africa’s smartphone market with a combined unit share of 45.2%, while Samsung and Huawei followed with unit shares of 19% and 8.8%, respectively, according to IDC.

In terms of value (US dollar), Transsion held 30.1% share, while Samsung accounted for 27.8%.

In a strategy aimed at boosting smartphone sales in emerging markets, while maintaining its lead position in SA, Yoon said the South Korean company is now preparing to release midrange 5G-enabled phones to bring fifth-generation network capabilities at a more affordable price tier.

Samsung recently launched its pricey flagship 5G-ready Galaxy smartphones, along with two wearables, as part of its strategy to focus on releasing an ecosystem of inter-connected gadgets.

“Samsung is bringing the power of 5G connectivity to more South African consumers. We are working to introduce midrange 5G devices before the end of the year. With SA’s mobile network operators already introducing 5G networks across the country, we want our customers to experience new technologies at affordable prices.”

While Yoon could not confirm the launch date or the phone models, speculation is rife that Samsung will bring devices which are part of its Galaxy A series to SA. The Galaxy A51 has already launched in some parts of the world, selling for $549.99 (about R9 000), with other cheaper phones are expected to make their way to the market.

Its first 5G phone was the Galaxy S10 5G, followed by the Galaxy Note 10 and the Galaxy 20 range – all high-end, pricey phones.

“Samsung has various research and development projects under way, with more than 40 000 engineers in Korea alone who are researching the next-generation innovations across our product range.

“Only 10 000 of these engineers are working on our current products, with the other 30 000 focusing solely on future innovations and trends expected. Based on consumer trends and preferences, we are consistently improving the use of emerging tech such as artificial intelligence, Internet of things, augmented reality and 5G in our products,” concludes Yoon.

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