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Consumer-friendly devices, refined R&D key goals in 2018: Samsung India

SamsungBy Nishant Arora,

New Delhi : Having dominated the Indian smartphone market for years, Samsung will focus on fundamentals like making devices across price segments in 2018 and leverage its R&D work to achieve that goal, a top India executive has reiterated.

Samsung had 47 per cent market share (by value) in the country in September and 65.4 per cent (by value) for the third quarter (premium segment) this year, according to German research firm GfK which tracks sales to end-consumers.

According to Asim Warsi, Senior Vice President, Product Planning and Marketing, Samsung India, the thrust next year will be on making devices that match consumers’ changing requirements.

“We have been leading and consolidating our position in India continuously for several years. Our gains have come from certain core fundamentals of doing business that we always adhere to and will double down on those fundamentals going forward,” Warsi told IANS in a free-wheeling chat here.

“We will continue to invest more and the thrust will be to make phones and other devices customised for Indian conditions…that deliver greater customer satisfaction. We will also leverage our full R&D potential in the months to come,” Warsi stressed.

Next on his to-do list is further improvement in Samsung’s after-sales service network.

“We have the largest after-sales service network in India to reach out to people anywhere, even in the hinterland. Innovation is paramount and you will see lots of new innovations and things customised for the Indian market next year,” informed Warsi, who has been at the helm at Samsung for over 12 years.

Samsung has had a great first half with Galaxy S8 and S8+ devices in India.

“We launched the all-new Samsung Pay service this year, unveiled successful models like Galaxy C9 and C7, Galaxy J7 Max and J7 Pro and ultimately Galaxy Note 8, that is doing great in the hot premium segment,” Warsi told IANS.

According to him, India is offering double-digit growth for all phone categories — led by smartphones.

“I don’t say that feature phones are going to go away, but smartphones will bring more growth; be it in the Rs-10,000 mass segment, the Rs 20,000-30,000 high-end segment or above Rs 30,000 premium category,” Warsi noted.

Camera continues to be a highlight but, said Warsi, services like entertainment and utility (My Galaxy), UPI-based mobile payment ecosystem (Samsung Pay) and AI-based features (digital assistant Bixby) and Internet of Things (IoT) will continue to enhance consumer experience.

Refuting reports that Samsung’s market share has slipped in India, Warsi said: “German research firm GfK reports final consumption which is the most important measure of market share. Shipments are important but they don’t tell the final market share. The real share is what I sold out to my customers and here, we are pretty strong.”

“Our supply chain is very efficient and lean till the retailers’ end. We don’t do big imports, ship and create massive inventories. We pulse the supply chain system basis the changing demand and the seasons in India,” Warsi explained.

The South Korean giant recently announced that it would invest Rs 4,915 crore in expanding its Noida manufacturing plant.

The expansion will double its production capacity of both mobile phones and consumer electronics, further consolidating the firm’s leadership in these segments.

Samsung’s Noida plant was one of the first electronics manufacturing facilities set up in the country in the early 1990s. The plant started with televisions in 1997. The current mobile phone manufacturing unit was added in 2005.

Samsung has two manufacturing plants — in Noida and in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu — five R&D centres (the biggest is in Bengaluru — which is also the largest outside South Korea), and one design centre in Noida, employing over 70,000 people and expanding its network to over 1.5 lakh retail outlets.

“The Indian smartphone market is very encouraging and will keep growing in double digits. Wait for some industry-disrupting features soon from us,” Warsi said.

(Nishant Arora can be contacted at nishant.a@ians.in)

—IANS

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