Phonemakers pile in to exploit Samsung weakness

Sun Feb 26, 2017 3:45pm EST
 
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By Eric Auchard and Harro Ten Wolde

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Phonemakers are piling in to fill a gap in the market left by Samsung (005930.KS: Quote), still licking its wounds from a costly recall of its flagship Note 7 and with no key device of its own to launch at the telecom industry's biggest annual fair.

China's Huawei [HWT.UL], the most likely contender to fill the hole in the premium end of the market, took the wraps off a new phone in its quest to displace Samsung as the world's no. 2 smartphone maker after Apple (AAPL.O: Quote), during a rush of new product releases on Sunday ahead of this week's World Mobile Congress.

Chinese challengers Xiaomi [XTC.UL], Vivo, Oppo and Gionee are in hot pursuit, while BlackBerry (BB.TO: Quote) and Nokia (NOKIA.HE: Quote) announced models exploiting their retro appeal.

Samsung itself presented two new tablets pending the launch of its next flagship device, the Galaxy S8, expected now at the end of March rather than at Mobile World Congress, its usual showcase.

"The past six months have undoubtedly been one of the most challenging periods of our history," Samsung's European marketing chief David Lowes told a news conference in Barcelona. "We're determined to learn every possible lesson."

Samsung withdrew the Galaxy Note 7 last October after faulty batteries led some devices to catch fire, leading to a loss of consumer trust, wiping out more than $5 billion of operating profit, and allowing the iPhone to overtake it in sales.

"The competition is feisty but I think we have a good chance," Richard Yu, chief executive of Huawei's consumer business group, told Reuters in an interview.

Samsung's smartphone market share dropped to 17.7 percent in the fourth quarter, while Apple's rose to 17.8 percent, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics.   Continued...

 
Richard Yu, chief executive of Huawei's consumer business, holds up new P10 devices during the presentation ceremony at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2017. REUTERS/Paul Hanna