When Apple came in 2007, everybody was considering how Nokia is going to react to changes brought about by Apple. But there was another manufacturer from Korea who has been quietly making inroads in to the mobile handsets market with a slew of new product launches and supported by multi-operating systems. That is Samsung.
This Korean mobile phone manufacturer, Samsung Electronics, has increased its global mobile market share from 16.7 per cent in 2008 to 20.6 per cent in 2010. In India, its production capacity has tripled from 1.2 crore handsets to 3.6 crore handsets annually. India has been one of the top three mobile markets for Samsung in the world. It has been clocking a 40-50 per cent growth, while the mobile business has been growing exponentially, 70-80 per cent.
Today, Samsung has over 28 per cent market share (in value terms) in the mobile handset market and is the second largest player in India. Almost 50 per cent of the company's turnover comes from mobile and IT business in the country.
Today, Samsung's handset portfolio had 16 models in India that included multimedia phones comprising Hero and Metro series, dual sim handsets, touchscreen mobiles and smartphones, including the ‘bada'-based Wave series and the Android-based Galaxy series. The company also offered a portfolio of two Tablets, the Galaxy Tab (P1000) and the recently introduced Galaxy Tab 750.
For Samsung, R&D played an important role for increasing the market share and keeping pace with the competitors. The company invested close to 8 per cent of its total revenue in R&D globally. It focussed on bada and Android-based platforms for its smartphones and Tablets. In the mass segment, it was present at low-cost feature phones.
The company had been enhancing its software competence and the Indian R&D played a strategic role, says Dipesh A Shah, Vice-President, R&D operations.
Mr. Shah, who spoke to this correspondent on a recent visit to New Delhi on the company's R&D and its contribution to the growth of Samsung mobile, said as the Indian market grew, the India R&D was developing localised solutions customised for the Indian market. For example, as the market for smartphones and smart-TVs grew, Samsung needed to create applications customised for the urban Indian market. The rollout of 3G services gave the R&D centre a good opportunity to provide differentiated solutions on smartphones and Tablets. It had been estimated that worldwide, smartphone sales would reach 468 million units in 2011, a 57.7 per cent increase from 2010, according to Gartner Inc.
By the end of 2011, Android would move to become the most popular operating system (OS) worldwide and would build on its strength to account for 49 per cent of the smartphone market by 2012. Sales of open OS devices would account for 26 per cent of all mobile handset devices sales in 2011, and were expected to surpass the 1 billion mark by 2015, when it would account for 47 per cent of the total mobile devices market.
Mr. Shah said the R&D centre developed protocol and platform software for mobiles and software for Samsung semiconductors. Indian R&D engineers worked with their global counterparts in Korea/Europe/ the U.S. to develop leading edge solutions and products for Samsung in areas such as 4G, LTE and 3D. Also, in OS software, the Indian R&D centre had a key role to play.
The company's R&D centre in Bangalore had the largest software workforce outside Korea with 3,000 employees. As the company moved towards enhancing the software competence, the India R&D centre was increasingly playing a strategic role.
Mr. Shah said the focus for the future for India R&D was to emerge as world leaders in key areas and also create differentiated solutions for the Indian market. R&D centres in India would play a key role in developing products customised for Indian market and creating B2B solutions.
It would come up with unique solutions for local mobile market like the mobile tracker, religious Apps, J2ME App Store and T9 (Hindi and English) Hinglish prediction.
Recently, the company introduced its own platform, bada 2.0, globally. With this launch, Samsung would have both Android and bada platforms.
He also said that soon the whole application community would have a single common platform for the mobile. Samsung was actively participating in the forum.