By George Bevir
Samsung hopes new ‘Jet’ device will boost Middle East market share.
The mobile phone market will not experience a turnaround in fortune until the start of next year at the earliest, according to Vinod Nair, Samsung’s director of mobile phones for the Middle East and Africa.
The mobile devices market has been in a steady state of decline since last year, with ABI Research estimating that 35 million less handsets were sold in the first quarter of 2009 than during the same period last year.
Speaking at an elaborate launch of Samsung’s latest device in Dubai yesterday evening, Nair told CommsMEA that he expects the market to continue to shrink this year.
“The expectations are that by next year, Q1 or early Q2, things will start to recover,” he said. “This is totally contingent on the world economy, but this is what we are hoping and expecting.
“The Middle East has not been insulated from what has happened, so once things pick up, things should recover in the Middle East as well. I expect this region to follow the rest of the world.”
Nair said that at 20%, Samsung’s share of the mobile phone market in the Middle East reflects the company’s global market share, and he said there are high expectations that the manufacturer’s latest touch screen device, branded ‘Jet’ and priced at AED2249 (US$612), will have a positive effect its share in the region.
“Touch screen devices are still a niche market, and are seen as state of the art and the latest technology to have. Some people are willing to pay a slightly higher price and we have to get it to that market first,” Nair said.
“Some people have said that it is priced too high, but the response we have had from the different partners – open market and operator market – has been quite positive. A lot depends on the market; in the Middle East the volumes will be higher, whereas in Africa it might be lower. But overall we are expecting a positive impact.”
The HSDPA-enabled device comes with a 3.1” WVGA AMOLED display which Samsung claims provides a resolution that is four times higher than a WQVGA screen, as well as an 800MHZ application processor.
In keeping with the latest touch screen devices it has a customisable widget screen, but Nair said that Samsung’s own application store is “still a work in progress”.
Many operators and most handset manufacturers have launched their own application stores in a bid to develop an additional source of revenue, pitting operators directly against manufacturers.
“We are trying it out to see if it is really something that the customer values, or is it just something to brag about,” Nair said.
“A lot of operators have already made investments of their own in content, and this is one of the reasons why they hated someone else - not naming any names - when they opened up their own application store. It really depends on how you convince the operators,” Nair said.