“Tough.” That’s the one word Samsung Electronics’ new handset business head said Wednesday to describe the uphill battle the Korean giant will face in the new year. “Next year will be tough,” Koh Dong-jin said, giving the impression that being a top contender in the smartphone business has its challenges. 2016 will be no different.
Samsung has had something of a leveling year in 2015. The company had a rocky 2014, releasing a Galaxy S5 that didn’t match up to expectations of an aluminum unibody and was something of a “yawn” among customers who didn’t see the need to upgrade from a Galaxy S4. This year has proved different, with the company releasing its Galaxy S6 edge and later, the Galaxy S6 edge+, that have proven to put Samsung back on the top-contender radar again. With that said, however, the company wasn’t quite able to meet demand for its S6 edge, further frustrating sales, though the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge helped Samsung avoid the kind of financial decline that some analysts saw as a given.
Apart from Android, which has more than a dozen manufacturers all competing for hearts and wallets with low-, mid-, and high-range offerings, Samsung now has its own operating system, Tizen, that has been released on its range of TVs. Samsung TV chief Kim Hyun-seok says that Samsung’s TV sales will grow next year, particularly in worldwide markets due to an increase in major sports events.
Samsung has its sights set on growing Tizen for more than its TVs, however, with the company’s latest release of its Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic Bluetooth smartwatches, along with the Gear S2 3G standalone model with cellular connectivity and Wi-Fi, available for purchase worldwide. Samsung’s Gear S2 is a drastic departure from the curved AMOLED display of the Gear S, bringing with it a circular AMOLED display, wireless charging, a rotating bezel that proves its most unique feature, and a Rotary UI that features round icons instead of the square ones of the Gear S.
As for its smartphone range, Samsung has added the Z3, the second-generation “Z” smartphone that runs Tizen. The Z1 had its popularity in emerging markets like India, with more than 1 million sold in the country, and the Z3 is having its measure of success as well – the smartphone just registered as the world’s fourth top trending phone out of 10 in less than one month after its release. Tizen just surpassed BlackBerry to become the fourth most popular operating system worldwide in Q3 2015. Samsung intends to bring its popular Z3 to not only India and Bangladesh but also developed countries like Europe and Russia, where the Z3 is for government and corporate use but not consumer use at the moment. As the Z3 makes its way to the consumer base there, we expect Tizen adoption rates to increase significantly.
With the popularity of the Tizen-powered Z1, and the anticipated success of the Z3, Samsung’s best days are ahead. Though they prove tough, they won’t necessarily prove barren.