Samsung expects the new flagship Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ to set record sales, better the flagship’s predecessor the Galaxy S7, Asim Warsi, senior vice president, mobile business, Samsung India told ET, in an interaction, even as he expects the larger version of the premium end devices to sell more among eager consumers. The South Korean smartphone maker feels it has put the problems related to the Galaxy Note 7 behind it as consumers have continued to purchase Samsung phones, and now aims to refresh its retail presence with the new flagship to take on competition in the market. Edited excerpts
Q: What kind of sales are you expecting in India? How much of a market share push will the S8 help you generate?
A: The sense we’re getting from global markets and India on the S8 and consumer inquiries, we know that we will be contending with demand far in excess of what we’ve seen with our flagship devices and we’re gearing up for it. I can tell you that it will result in significant market share gains. In India the larger screen sizes are being accepted more by customers, but if you see the screen sizes versus display sizes on both the devices, we expect the larger version to generate more excitement among consumers.
Q: Do you think you’ve shaken off the after effects of the debacle of the Galaxy Note 7? Do you expect any apprehension in the market?
A: We’ve seen that the consumers’ and channel’s trust has been really steadfast. Last two years and in 2017 as well, we’re growing year on year, and healthy growth, in the backdrop of the incident. That is behind us, quality continues to be the most important lens at Samsung about how we approach business of technology, innovation and manufacturing.
Q: What kind of marketing budget have you outlined this time? What will you be doing differently?
A: S8 will have a lot of large scale visibility, all our retail stores will be refreshing with S8 and sales, channel and other partners will be trained to explain consumers features of the devices, because there are so many different new things we’re getting with the S8. We have the largest network of managed experience for consumers, we have sales promoters company sponsored and trained, furniture, branding and the whole experience done in multi-brand retail stores. We’re working with our online partner Flipkart, banking partners and retail partners, to build the ecosystem.
Q: How will you approach the market with the pricing, with the Chinese players coming in?
A: At this end of the market price, consumers have come to look at Samsung as what is the next big thing, and it’s a great position to be in. This time we feel that S8, this time more than before, will have the imagination of customers both from visible, tangible, aesthetics and technology features in it,like security, AI, payments. We will have support prices, offers, promotions at this price, from time to time.
Q: Is there something out of the box that you plan to do that the market has not seen?
A: In times to come on Samsung Pay and on S8, you will see more exciting things to come. This is about look, tap and pay, it is another new way of doing transactions but something as tangible as iris scanner for payments is security.
Q: Any new things on accessories?
A: AKG, tangle free cord from Harman that was acquired by Samsung recently, comes in the box. We have Dex, which allows you to work from your phone and then directly on to the set up seamlessly. We call this feature part of the Phone Plus. There is the 360 degree camera coming in, the new Gear VR and controller for 3D games, for not only viewing content but also creating your own content on them. We also have the new wireless charging pad so you can use your phone while it gets charged.
Q: Would you be looking at giving more commissions to retailers to push sales?
A: Nothing out of the regular study that we have been deploying, tried and tested go to market (strategy) which has been working for us very well.
Q: Would you look at integrating Aadhar with Samsung Pay?
A: We’re reading and studying it closely, the specs are not known. Whatever is relevant in the use case or the adoption, we would want to have that on Samsung Pay. We would openly study that.
Q: What is the product outlook looking like for 2017?
A: We will be a full blown player with models across the price spectrum, smartphones in the entry level, we have the Tizen, the mid and the premium segment with the S8. We also have featurephones and we continue to build out in the tablet space, more exciting stuff happening there.