Johannesburg – Africa is a focus market for Samsung as the company looks to tap into an emerging middle class in developing countries.
The South Korean giant electronics company launched the Samsung Galaxy SIII smartphone in Johannesburg on Friday, but hinted that the sought-after device was leading a charge of conquest of developing markets.
«South Africa and the African continent is a massive focus for Samsung – not only from a mobile phone perspective, but also from a holistic perspective,» Craige Fleisher head of mobile communications at Samsung SA told News24.
Global pre-order for the anticipated Galaxy SIII topped nine million and in SA, close to 50 000 have been ordered before the launch, and Samsung said that it was an indicator of the strength of the brand in developing markets.
«We have strong confidence from our partners in South Africa, and it will be very interesting to see how the sales look. We predict significant growth for this product.» said Fleisher.
The South Korean giant is targeting Africa for future growth and has implemented a strong focus on African for Samsung products and services across consumer, enterprise and industrial sectors.
«We have our Build for Africa programme where specific devices and units, not only on the mobile device front, but across the range, have been specifically built for Africa for Africans,» Fleisher said.
Samsung produces a range of consumer devices and Fleisher said that success in Africa could lead to further penetration into Africa.
«The South African market is a unique market. We are the stepping stone into Africa and it’s a very important market for Samsung and we have invested significantly here,» Fleisher said.
«What Samsung has done is we took cognisance of the fact that the demographic is very different; internet penetration is substantially lower than European countries, so we brought creative, relevant products that speak to the consumers,» Samsung SA managing director Deon Liebenberg told News24.
Cost is an important factor in developing markets, and Liebenberg cited cheaper Samsung devices than its flagship Galaxy SIII which could deliver a smartphone experience for cost-sensitive consumers.
«Very recently we announced a significant product called the Samsung Galaxy Pocket smartphone. This specific phone is very uniquely positioned in the South African and African market because we addressed the specific addressable market: It’s the first Galaxy Samsung product – runs Android, 3 megapixel camera – and we’re retailing that product for under a R1 000.»
The manufacturer will also not discontinue sales of the Galaxy SII, which was named «Best Smartphone» by the GSMA, while at the same time upgrading cheaper models like the Galaxy Ace and Y Pro to retain market share.
Both Liebenberg and Fleisher are former South African Research In Motion executives and are determined to increase Samsung’s share of the local market.
About 65% of the South African smartphone market is taken by BlackBerry devices, due in part to the BlackBerry Internet Service and Samsung is determined that the local market should reflect global trends.
Samsung recently overtook Nokia as the largest global cellphone manufacturer, increasing its market share to 25.4%.
«We want to challenge the local market; we want to challenge the African market – and literally it will democratise access to the internet: Giving access to cost-effective, feature-rich smartphones where people can experience technology and the internet across the continent for the first time,» said Liebenberg.