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Interview with Manu Sharma, Vice-President, Mobile Business, Samsung India
In an interview with tele.net, Manu Sharma, Vice-President, Mobile Business, Samsung India, talks about the current trends in the smartphone market in India, the company's key focus areas and the outlook for the Indian smartphone market in 2017...
The consumers today are spoilt for choice. A handset must offer them a perfect blend of performance and style to persuade them to purchase it. The demand for slimmer, faster and smarter devices is on the rise. Another significant trend that is changing consumer behaviour is technological advancements like virtual reality and artificial intelligence, along with the growing supply and distribution of digital content. The industry has already seen some major leaps towards virtual reality in 2016, which will gain further traction in 2017 due to its growing popularity and applications in different fields. Artificial intelligence has also reached a tipping point and will increasingly be incorporated in the majority of mobile devices to enable an enhanced and seamless mobile experience.
At Samsung, we have always managed to offer technologically advanced devices, which also score well in terms of looks. Understanding the pulse of the consumer and developing products around specific consumer needs have been the key strengths of the company.
What were the key highlights of Samsung’s mobile business during 2016?
Samsung is the undisputed leader in the smartphone segment in India and has over the years catered to the needs of consumers across segments through its meaningful innovations. Pioneering technologies and developing products in line with the changing landscape is a key strength of Samsung. The year 2016 was a significant one for us, when we further strengthened our portfolio.
We launched a range of smartphones in 2016 in different price segments, which did really well in the Indian handset market. We set new benchmarks with dual pixel cameras for a DSLR-like experience, and IP68 for dust and water resistance. We consolidated and sustained our leadership in the smartphone market and our smartphone market share grew from 41 per cent to 46 per cent in 2016. Overall, it was a highly satisfying year for us and we are confident that we will continue our growth trajectory in the country with our India-focused product portfolio.
What are the company’s flagship devices across various segments?
The Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge are highly successful in the premium segment. In addition, the Galaxy J series has been a great hit with Indian consumers. The devices come with Samsung’s localised “Make for India” features like the ultra data saving mode, the S Bike mode and S Power planning, which offer faster internet, safety solution for bikers and better power optimisation. In the affordable range, Samsung’s Tizen smartphones, the Z1 and Z3, with an intuitive user interface have received a great response from Indian consumers. The Samsung Z2, which is the first 4G Tizen phone, has also been very popular in the segment.
What are the company’s plans for 2017? What will be the key focus areas?
Samsung is continously strengthening its presence in the Indian market. As a customer-centric brand, we will persistently innovate ourselves with technologically advanced products and set industry benchmarks in 2017.
This year will be exciting for us as we gear up to move to the 4G space. 4G is going to be a big growth driver and as the market leader, we will look to consolidate our position. With increased internet penetration and falling data costs, we are looking to take a large share of the 4G pie. We are pioneers in the adoption of voice over long term evolution and our global expertise, along with our strong presence in the country, will help us dominate this space.
The year has already started on a very strong note for Samsung India. In the first month of 2017, we launched several new devices such as the Gear S3, Galaxy J2 Ace, Galaxy J1 4G and Galaxy C9 Pro. We will continue to introduce new products across segments. The focus still remains on building products that will be of value to our users. The strategy will be to understand the needs of our consumers and create products that are a perfect mix of technology, style and utility.
What is your outlook for the Indian smartphone market in 2017?
The number of smartphone users is expected to touch around 280 million in 2017. With penetration levels below 30 per cent, the Indian market offers immense opportunities. The year 2017 is expected to witness huge adoption of 4G devices along with the development of rich content, creation of a cashless ecosystem and significant progress in service offerings. The government is also driving citizens to make digital transactions with the recent demonetisation move and its Digital India programme. With a cashless economy taking shape, mobile phones will play an important role in driving the transition. Smartphones will truly become complete mobile wallets and security will play a critical role as we transition to a cashless society.
India has a huge base of customers using feature phones and, with increased internet penetration and lower data costs, we expect a large percentage of these users to upgrade to smartphones.
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