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Samsung is stepping up the pace of handset and technology introductions, promising a 2004 launch of about three dozen handsets that will include the brand's first handset with embedded Wi-Fi, first EDGE handsets, first keyboard-equipped phones and the industry's first handset with built-in analog-TV tuner.
Also for the United States in 2004, the company plans its first phone with embedded megapixel camera, a hybrid GSM/CDMA world phone and a phone with speech-to-text conversion.
By the end of this year, the company will ship its first push-to-talk (PTT) handset to a CDMA 1X carrier, said senior VP Pete Skarzynski during a meeting here with press and analysts. In recent days, the company launched a camera phone capable of taking 15 pictures in rapid sequence. It's available through T-Mobile at $249.
Including these year-end introductions, the company will have shipped 25 new handsets into the U.S. market in 2003, each "with substantial differences in features and form factors" to offer carriers differentiated product, Skarzynski said. The 2003 products included Samsung's first PDA-phone based on Microsoft's Pocket PC Phone Edition platform and its first smartphone based on Microsoft's Smartphone Edition platform. "We introduced more new products in the U.S. than other suppliers," he boasted.
The pace of the introductions, combined with rising U.S. demand and deeper penetration of the GSM market, will contribute to a rise in Samsung's U.S. unit sales by 55 percent in 2003 to about 12 million, the company said. The increase boosted Samsung's first-half North American sell-through share to 12 percent from the year-ago period's 7.2 percent, keeping the company firmly in the number three slot after Nokia and Motorola, Gartner Dataquest statistics show.
Other factors contributing to Samsung's growth include low return and customer dissatisfaction rates, Skarzynski contended. The cost of Samsung phones to carriers is "a little more at first," he said, but the carriers' long-term costs drop because the brand boasts the lowest return rate and lowest customer-dissatisfaction rates in the U.S. market, he claimed.
Samsung also boasts of one of the highest retention rates in the business. "For some carriers, 30 percent to 40 percent of our business with them is in upgrading current Samsung customers," said product marketing VP Randy Smith.
Globally, Samsung's unit sales will rise 37 percent, but its revenues will rise 65 percent because of the company's focus on step-up handsets, Smith noted.
To maintain the growth pace, Skarzynski drew a U.S. product roadmap with the following markers:
The company's first EDGE handset in mid-year, with most all new GSM handsets incorporating EDGE by the end of the year. EDGE and CDMA 1X EV-DO allow for wireless video conferencing, he said.
"Quite a few" keyboard-equipped handsets in midyear.
First-quarter availability of the CDMA 1X a670 camera phone, designed to bring camera capabilities to a new opening price point for Samsung. It will probably retail from $99 to $129, excluding special promotions, down from the regular $149 price on its current entry-level camera phone, the a620, he said.
First-quarter availability of the p705 TV-phone, which delivers 3.5 hours of TV viewing time on the included battery.