Samsung to launch flexible display, cut smartphone models in 2015

Samsung Electronics will launch a flexible display for handsets and release 25 to 30 percent less handset models next year while strengthening its low- to mid-end line-up, a senior executive said during an investors forum.
Written by Cho Mu-Hyun, Contributing Writer

Samsung Display, the display-making affiliate of Samsung Electronics, will launch a flexible display for smartphones that can be folded in half, a senior company executive said.

"We will secure production capacity of 30,000 to 40,000 [flexible displays each month] by the end of next year," said Lee Chang-hoon, vice president of business strategic team, Samsung Display, during Samsung Investor Forum 2014 in New York. "There will be no company [except Samsung] that has this great production capacity by 2016.

"We plan to provide consumers with a product that has a flexible display by the end of the year. However, nothing has been decided on the finished product," added Lee.

Samsung Electronics is planning to expand its product line of flexible-display smartphones following the warm reception of the Galaxy Note Edge, which has a curved display that wraps around its side. Samsung Display is currently expanding production capacity of its A3 line, which produced the curved display for the Edge.

Lee also said that the company is planning to lower production costs of AMOLED, which is currently more expensive than LCD, to lure more customers.

"One of the superior things about AMOLED is that [because it has no backlight] it can become cheaper to produce compared to LCD. We are prepared to compete directly with LCD," he said.

"AMOLED is similar in price to LCD, but better capability wise. We are confident that more people will buy AMOLED," he added.

Samsung Display will also lower reliance on its big brother, Samsung Electronics, by increasing the market for its AMOLED.

"Within three years, we will balance captive account and outside account to 50:50. We will be able to increase volume [sold to others] comprehensively," he said.

Samsung to launch 30 percent less smartphone models in 2015

"In 2015, we will lower the number of smartphone models by one fourth to one third compared to this year," said Robert Yi, senior vice president and head of investor relations at Samsung Electronics, during Samsung Investors Forum 2014.

Many have pointed out in the past that Samsung launched too many different models, deterring the establishment of proper product identities and weakening its brand image.

Samsung has also recently ceded its top place in China to local handset maker Xiaomi as it reacted belatedly against price-competitive low- to mid-end handsets. The South Korean tech giant recently released its Galaxy A series phone in China, intended to reclaim its lost market share.

"[Lowering the model number] will allow us a chance to lower the prices of [remaining models] through mass production," said Yi. "In low- to mid-end products, price is the most important, and for high-end products, it is innovation."

The executive also took the chance to throw jabs at Xiaomi.

"They are a mysterious entity. I don't know where they create profit," said Yi about its main competitor in the world's second-largest market. He also questioned whether Xiaomi could maintain the same strategy of saving costs by selling and promoting its goods exclusively through online channels.

"They have created a good user experience that caters for the needs of Chinese consumers," he said. "But I don't know if it will work outside of China."

Yi also vowed more innovation for the higher end of the smartphone market.

"For high-priced smartphones, innovative factors such as flexible display will be important," he said.

Lee Chang-hoon of Samsung Display, also at the forum, hinted at a possible multi-edged smartphone that may succeed the Galaxy Note Edge.

"Consumers' preference will decide whether one side will become the band, or either sides. We are prepared to make customised designed products based on consumer needs," he said.

Source: ZDNet.co.kr

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