​Samsung mobile chief expects return to form in China

Samsung mobile boss DJ Koh believes that the South Korean tech giant will rally again in China and show improved performance on 2015, when it lost huge chunks of market share to rising local vendors.
Written by Cho Mu-Hyun, Contributing Writer

Samsung will return to form and do well in China this year after suffering major setbacks there last year due to the rising popularity of local brands, its mobile chief has said.

In a press conference at Shilla Hotel in Seoul a day ahead of the global launch for the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, Samsung mobile chief DJ Koh said he has personally reviewed the operations in China and returned with a confidence that the company will perform well there.

"I am well aware of the importance of the Chinese market and we had lot of difficulty there for the past year," said Koh, who went to Shanghai and Beijing earlier in the week to meet with partners.

Samsung held a media event for its latest flagship phones in Shanghai on March 7, its biggest since the Unpacked Event at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month, showing the importance of China to the firm's mobile sales.

According to IDC, a record 117.3 million smartphones were shipped to China in the fourth quarter last year while Samsung was pushed out of the top five. It lost out to Huawei and Xiaomi, who clinched top places, while archrival Apple remains a steady player there.

Samsung was number one until 2013, but alarm bells started ringing when Xiaomi overtook it as the top vendor in 2014. Its shares have continued to plummet since then.

"I visited China because I wanted to find out why we had such difficulties, and met with telco executives in Beijing," said Koh. "Our first customer is the distributors [telcos] because they are the point of contact with consumers. So how much they prepare for our goods is the most important factor in sales."

"I saw what they were preparing for with S7 and S7 Edge. I saw the stores. Together with our partners, we oversaw the message we wanted to convey to our customers and marketing plans. I came back with the conviction that we will do well in the Chinese market," he said.

Koh declined to comment on specific sales targets.

A sense of danger remains high within the company regarding its China operation, according to a source familiar with the matter, and senior executives there were summoned to headquarters multiple times to come up with a strategy to offset losses.

Samsung also unveiled a heart symbol for the S7 that it will use for marketing in South Korea. It highlighted the S7's strengthened camera features that allows better pictures in low light, thanks to its own dual pixel image sensor.

Samsung Pay was also highlighted during the conference. The mobile payment solution is continuing to expand to additional transaction areas in South Korea, and will expand to Canada, Singapore, Australia, Brazil, China, Spain, and the UK sometime this year.

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