Samsung banks on touch-screens to beat the slump

Samsung is banking on a new range of touch-screen smartphones to see it through the economic slump, and sheer volume to steal the thunder of its competition.

On Monday Samsung unveiled touch-screen versions of its Ultra and Omnia handset lines, as well as two BEAT Edition mobile phones - music-oriented handsets aimed directly at Nokia's Xpress 5800 phone.

Samsung also launched an eco-friendly touch-screen handset, the Blue Earth, which sports recycled plastic and a solar panel for recharging.

M.P. Hong, Samsung's EVP of product strategy, said that despite dire predictions of the economic crisis' impact on the mobile device sector, Samsung aimed to maintain growth in 2009 by focusing on hot-growth markets.

"Touch-screens and smartphones are predicted to be the largest-growing market segments this year, and we have a strong line-up in both," he said at a Samsung press conference in Barcelona Monday.

Hong also cited emerging markets as a growth area Samsung could leverage to grow its business.

Samsung's touch-screen focus comes at a time when the market for touch-screens is already competitive. J.K. Shin, the head of Samsung's Mobile Communications division, says that Samsung can differentiate itself in several ways, such as support for DLNA features that allow its phones to interact with home networks.

The main differentiation, though, will come from better touch technology, better user interfaces and a focus on lifestyles.

"The handsets we are launching all focus on different customer needs - style, music fans, business professionals and early adopters," Shin said. "Other manufacturers only have one or two touch-screen devices, but we are coming onto the market with more devices."

As reported earlier, Samsung did not launch an official Android-based handset at the MWC, although Shin said that one is in the pipeline.

Younghee Lee, Samsung VP of global marketing, confirmed reports that Samsung plans to launch the Android handset in Q3 this year, but denied that the handset was being pushed back due to problems.

"There was expectation that we would launch an Android phone in Barcelona, but we had always planned for a Q3 launch," she told telecomasia.net. "The reason for the timing is not technical, but to give us time to work with our operator partners to launch the phone when they are ready."

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