Pressure mounts on Samsung as competitors up ante: Page 2 of 2

New phones to boost share?

Pressure mounts on Samsung as competitors up ante: Page 2 of 2

At a recent launch extravaganza in Kuala Lumpur, Samsung Malaysia rolled out two new smartphones, a move it believes may be the key to its revival in the region.

Tech blog Soya Cincau notes that the 5in Galaxy A5 and the 4.5in A3 feature a metal frame like the Galaxy Alpha, and they both come in a sleek unibody design.
 
Under the hood, the Galaxy A3 and Galaxy A5 both have a 1.2GHz Quad-Core Snapdragon 410 processor that’s mated with 2GB RAM (1GB RAM for the A3) and 16GB storage.
 
The Galaxy A3 is officially priced at RM899 (US$255) while its Galaxy A5 model is priced at RM1,199 (US$336).
 
Soya Cincau also has a full review of the A5 as well as an easy-to-read infographic comparing various specifications.

Speaking during the launch of the Samsung Galaxy A5 and A3 smartphones, Lee Jui Siang (pic above), vice president for mobile, IT and digital imaging, Samsung Malaysia Electronics, said the two smartphones were targeted at young people, a key demographic for the South Korean giant.

Declaring that the Galaxy A5 and A3 will be a hit with this segment because of features such as its signature wide-angle capabilities and 5-megapixel front camera, Lee said these smartphones have been designed for those who love to take ‘selfies’ and ‘wefies’ without huddling close to one another.
 
When asked if such features would make enough of a difference in the Malaysian market that it would boost Samsung’s sales, given that the market is being flooded with smartphones that have equivalent features, Lee said he “believes the A5 and A3 will do well.”
 
“Samsung is a very well-liked phone in Malaysia and we do enjoy a high level of support, thanks to Malaysians,” he said at the launch last week.
 
“With the A3 and A5, we are very confident that they will be in high demand [especially] with youth due to their stylish design, super Amoled screen and wide ‘selfie’ features,” he added.
 
However, in a straw poll DNA conducted with 10 young people between the ages of 15 and 19, only three said they would buy the Samsung Galaxy A5 and A3, given their prices.

When asked how important the 5-megapixel front camera and the wide-angle lens for taking ‘selfies’ and ‘wefies’ was, none of the respondents said they were important features.
 
As for which brands they would consider besides Samsung, the group selected iPhones, Taiwan’s HTC and Xioami.

Tough road ahead

Pressure mounts on Samsung as competitors up ante: Page 2 of 2While Samsung is putting on a brave front about the prospects of its new phones, as expected, it remains to be seen if these somewhat marginal improvements in features would attract an already largely fatigued crowd of smartphone buyers.
 
Counterpoint’s Shah (pic) believes that many brands are diversifying and thinking more broadly in terms of user-experience, software and ecosystem services to differentiate and position their offerings differently.
 
He argued that Samsung needs to reinvigorate and get rid of its “boring hardware design and clunky software user interface (UI).”
 
He also said that Samsung needs to cut down on the number of models in its portfolio as there are more than 300 Galaxy variants being sold across world right now – a point that is holding Samsung back from gaining greater scale.
 
“Samsung should adopt leaner distribution and marketing strategies to recoup some lost profits and reinvest in design, software and services.
 
“Another point is that by going after market share (or volume) with aggressive price cuts to compete with Chinese brands, this has diluted Samsung’s brand – the company now needs to be prudent of its pricing strategy, especially at the high-end, to maintain value versus price balance,” he added.
 
Pressure mounts on Samsung as competitors up ante: Page 2 of 2Canalys’ Kwee (pic) said brands such as Xiaomi and OnePlus (another Chinese smartphone maker) have exposed Samsung’s weaknesses in both the low- and high-end segments of the market.
 
She said Samsung needs to address these challenges, but conceded there isn’t an easy way to do this.
 
“Samsung’s high-end products are taking a beating as they are now being compared with products at half their price; I’d expect Samsung will need to go all-out with its next flagship phone.
 
“Its lower-end range used to be very broad but many of them were not competitive enough,” she explained.
 
“This is what I believe Samsung is trying to address with the new and more focused A series, although I believe they are still expensive and so pricing [against the competition] will continue to be a challenge,” she added.

Related Stories:
 
SEA smartphone sales hit 18mil units in Q1: GfK
 
Lenovo unveils broad range of smartphones
 
Smartphone maker Xiaomi makes Malaysian debut
 
Huawei to expand presence and device line-up in Malaysia

 
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