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Samsung seeks rebound in China with Galaxy S8

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By Kang Seung-woo

Samsung Electronics is seeking to regain its past success in China with a dedicated version of its new Galaxy S8 smartphone.

According to the South China Morning Post, Sunday (local time), Samsung is expected to hold a press conference in mid-April to launch its latest smartphone with a bigger memory of 6 gigabytes (GB) for China exclusively.

The Korean tech giant unveiled its two S8 models last week in New York ― the S8 and a larger S8 Plus ― both of which came with a 4GB memory.

It is not the first news report indicating that Samsung would offer 50 percent more RAM in its smartphone for Chinese consumers who love to play games or watch videos with their handheld devices.

The reports came as Samsung has seen its market share falling in the Chinese smartphone market.

Samsung was the No. 1 smartphone vendor there in 2013 with a market share of 19.7 percent, but since then, its dominance has steadily declined to 5 percent in 2016 ― the sixth best ― due to the meteoric rise of Chinese rivals such as Oppo, Vivo and Huawei, who are offering cheaper yet competitive products.

According to market researcher IDC, OPPO has the market leadership since 2016 with 16.8 percent, followed by Huawei with 16.4 percent and Vivo with 14.8 percent. Apple was fourth at 9.6 percent.

Koh Dong-jin, the president of Samsung's mobile communications business, also stressed the importance of the Chinese market.

"China was our third biggest market three years ago, but we are struggling there now," he told a press conference in New York, last week. "Having regrouped, we are trying to make a comeback."

Along with rising Chinese competitors, a recent diplomatic row could mount a challenge to Samsung's efforts to attract consumers there.

Due to Korea's recent decision to deploy a U.S. missile defense system, Beijing has taken a number of retaliatory economic measures against Seoul. Furthermore, Chinese consumers are shunning Korean brands although Koh is confident that Samsung will be able to overcome the boycott with its high quality.

"Given the strong level of competition with Huawei, Apple and to a lesser extent with Vivo or Oppo, it will be tougher for Samsung," Forrester Research's principal analyst Thomas Husson told the South China Morning Post.

However, Samsung said that nothing has been decided yet about the Chinese release.

Samsung is scheduled to hit stores on April 21 in the United States, Canada and Korea. And the new Galaxy phone will be available in all of Europe and some other countries, including Singapore and Hong Kong, on April 28.

Kang Seung-woo


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