Samsung Electronics Co. will release its latest flagship Galaxy S8 series in China on May 25 with desperate hopes that the new premium phone could help uplift its sagging share and reputation in the world’s largest smartphone market, according to sources from the industry on Wednesday.
The company has been receiving pre-orders for Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus smartphones since May 10 in China and giving Chinese consumers opportunities to experience the products at offline stores.
The new Galaxy S8 series has been selling smoothly in Korea, the United States, and Europe with sales topping 5 million units in the first 20 days. But the world’s top smartphone maker is unsure how its new phone would be met by Chinese consumers following the high-profile recall and discontinuation of ill-fated Galaxy Note 7 due to fire-prone batteries. The company accounted for just 3.3 percent in the Chinese market in the first quarter this year amid heated competition with local Android-based phone makers. The diplomatic spat over Korea’s decision to install U.S. antimissile battery has also been a damper on Korean brands.
Samsung Electronics excluded China in its first recall of Galaxy Note 7 in early September last year, claiming batteries made by China’s Amperex Technology Limited (ATL) that had been equipped with the phones for the Chinese market were safe. It came under fire in China because ATL batteries were later found to have defects as well.
Even without the Galaxy Note7 debacle, the company has been losing competition to local brands that have fast advanced in technologies. Samsung’s Chinese rivals Huawei and Xiaomi have recently launched new smartphones P10 and Mi6 respectively that are similarly high-performing and yet much cheaper. Oppo is also rapidly rising with its best-selling premium phone R9s.
Samsung Electronics pins high hopes as it had been aggressive in marketing the new Galaxy S8 series. The company in March appointed Executive Vice President Kwon Gye-hyun to spearhead mobile business in China.
By Lee Dong-in
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]