Samsung looks to life beyond smartphone14 April 2014
AFP, Seoul :
After years of record profit growth, tech giant Samsung Electronics looks to be at a commercial crossroads as it searches for a new growth driver to counter slowing sales of its phenomenally successful smartphones.
Alarm bells have been sounding for a while over Samsung's reliance on smartphone sales in increasingly mature markets such as Europe and the United States, and increasingly competitive emerging markets like China.
The world's largest smartphone maker has a diverse product line ranging from memory chips to home appliances, but more than half its profits are generated by mobile devices.
Last week, Samsung said it was on track for a second consecutive quarter of year-on-year profit decline, and its stock price fell nearly 10 percent in 2013 -- the first annual drop in five years.
Friday saw the global roll-out of the latest version of the flagship Galaxy series smartphone, the S5, whose performance will be closely watched.
While reviews have rated the S5 a top-class product, they note that it offers little in the way of real innovation that would set it apart from previous versions and models offered by competitors such as Apple.
"I think the market really needs a new growth driver at this point," said Lee Min-Hee, an analyst at IM Investment and Securities, noting that the high-end smartphone market "is already saturated".
"So it's inevitable to shift to mid-and low-end markets where margins are tighter and competition is even more fierce," she said.