South Korean electronics giant Samsung plans to overhaul part of its smartphone strategy and prioritize the introduction of cutting-edge technology to its mid-range devices, the company’s mobile Chief Executive Officer (CEO) told CNBC in an exclusive interview last week.
Korean Electronics Giant Joins Race to Develop Cheaper, High-Spec Phones
As growth in the global smartphone market decelerates, industry leaders including Apple Inc. (AAPL), China's Huawei Technologies and Samsung have been forced to rethink their strategies and hedge against declining smartphone unit sales. Samsung's decision to jazz up its lower-end devices before its more expensive models is reflective of the firm's larger bet on the Millennial consumer and its defensive move against rivals in growth markets.
"In the past, I brought the new technology and differentiation to the flagship model and then moved to the mid-end. But I have changed my strategy from this year to bring technology and differentiation points starting from the mid-end," Samsung's CEO DJ Koh told CNBC.
Instead of bringing the new tech to the flagship Galaxy S and Note series of devices, cutting edge features are expected to come to the Galaxy A series by later this year.
The decision follows a 20% year-over-year (YOY) drop in sales for Samsung's mobile division in the second quarter, bogged down by lower-than-expected sales of the higher-end Galaxy S9 devices. While Samsung historically led in the lower-end market, competitors including Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi Corp. have all rushed to offer cheap, high-spec phones as competition ramps in growth markets like India and Southeast Asia.
Koh also highlighted the need to attract the "millennials who cannot afford the flagship." He stated that "meaningful innovation" should "differentiate the mid-section" and harness the younger cohort of tech-savvy consumers.
Samsung first teased a foldable phone in 2014 with a concept ad. Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal indicated that the device could have a 7-inch single display, which will reportedly fold in half like a wallet and allow the exterior to display a small bar of information.
(See also: Apple to Launch Latest Batch of Updated iPhones.)