SAN FRANCISCO -- Samsung Electronics’ mobile head Roh Tae-moon said the South Korean tech titan counts on demand for its premium smartphone devices to drive double-digit growth in sales this year, despite the consumers’ pent-up desire for a phone shopping and macroeconomic headwinds.
At a press conference held at the Chase Center in San Francisco, Wednesday, following the Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2023 event, Roh showed confidence in expanding the tech firm’s presence in a global premium smartphone market with its latest Galaxy S23 smartphone lineup.
“We expect this year’s annual sales of both the Galaxy S and foldable lineups to grow globally by double digits compared to last year,” Roh said. “Despite the unfavorable economic conditions, our premium strategies will help us lead the market.”
Recently, the global smartphone market has experienced a sharp decline in demand due to the economic downturn. The annual global smartphone shipments fell 12 percent on-year to fewer than 1.2 billion units in 2022, according to market researcher Canalys.
Samsung was no exception. The company’s mobile experience business saw a decrease in its profit earned in 2022 due to reduced smartphone shipments. On Tuesday’s earnings call for the fourth quarter, Samsung reported a sharp drop in its operating profit of 43.3 trillion won ($351.7 billion), down by 16 percent on-year, despite record sales.
The poor performance was contrary to its smartphone shipment record in 2022. Samsung kept its No. 1 position among the top five vendors around the world, claiming a 22 percent market share with 257.9 million shipments, Canalys data showed.
Yet Samsung’s rival Apple came second with shipments of 232.2 million and a 19 percent market share, despite ending 2022 with its first-ever double-digit decline in the cited period.
In October, Apple announced the result of its fourth-quarter business performance. It posted record revenue of $90.1 billion during the September-December period, up 8 percent from a year prior.
The company is hopeful the newest Galaxy S series will bring a turnaround in performance. One of his stretch goals for this year is to post a more than 10 percent sales growth with the newly launched Galaxy S23 devices, which was based on Samsung’s global clients’ positive feedback on its smartphone series, according to Roh.
Given that the sales of the previous Galaxy S22 series are thought to be around 24 million units, the S23 series has to sell more than 26 million units. He said, “Google, which pre-optimized the latest Galaxy S series with us, has evaluated the new smartphone series as the most complete one ever.”
To raise Samsung’s flagship models’ competitiveness in the market, the company made many efforts to minimize the price increase for the Galaxy S23 series. Yet the price of the Galaxy S23 series has to be tipped in other countries, except for the US.
While keeping the price of Galaxy S23 series the same as the previous edition in the US, customers in Korea have to pay about 150,000 won more to purchase the model than the previous one.
“We had so many difficulties deciding the prices. … We had to consider multiple variables, including the price jump in raw materials and the increased volatility in the Korean won exchange rates,” he said.
Meanwhile, Samsung has expanded its business partnership with the world’s top IT giants such as Google, Qualcomm and Microsoft under the value of openness. Based on its strategic cooperation, the tech giant has provided the most optimized serviceability to its global users, Roh added.
Earlier in the day at the annual unpacking event, Samsung announced its collaboration with Qualcomm and Google to build an ecosystem for extended reality. Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon and Google’s Senior Vice President Android Hiroshi Lockheimer appeared onstage alongside Roh to announce the news.
They did not unveil any specific products under development or a timeline for them, but industry officials suggested that Samsung might develop XR headsets built on Qualcomm's chipset and Google's operating system.
The officials further forecasted that the announcement was made with one eye on the rumors surrounding Apple’s preparation to launch its first virtual reality headset as early as this spring.
"We will transform the future of the mobile industry by building the XR ecosystem together with Qualcomm and Google," Roh said at the unpacking event. Later in the day he also mentioned to the reporters that the company will lead a "new paradigm shift" in XR-based experience sharing through the trilateral partnership.
By Jie Ye-eun
Korea Herald correspondent