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Samsung to diversify smartphone range to chase volume

Believes it will beat its own target of 60m smartphones this year, with greater reliance on Bada and WP7, and new 5-inch Galaxy Q

By CAROLINE GABRIEL

Published: 19 July, 2011

READ MORE: Samsung | Handset | Windows Phone

Samsung gets more bullish about its smartphone targets with every quarter, and is now looking to beat its own target of 60m unit sales this year. This brings it within striking distance of Apple, which analysts estimate will sell about 75m units this year, up from 47.5m in 2010. Of course, the Korean firm relies on considerably more products to achieve its numbers. The Android Galaxy family lead the way, but - perhaps mindful of the patents furore surrounding the Google OS and its own legal fight with Apple - Samsung has pledged to increase the focus on its homegrown Bada system and on Windows Phone 7.

In an interview with the Yonhap News Agency, JK Shin, president of Samsung's mobile communications unit, said all three operating systems were performing well, leading him to expect that the firm would sell more than its targeted 60m smartphones (out of total handset shipments of 300m for the year). Last year, the company sold 280m handsets, including 25m smartphones.

"For the first time, Samsung's cellphone sales will top 300m this year. It is a very meaningful and important event," Shin said. He added that the company planned to broaden its range, and promised the launch of several "noteworthy" new Bada models in September. He also wants to leverage Samsung's economies of scale and manufacturing efficiencies to take the smartphone down to new price points, fending off similar efforts from ZTE and others, as the form factor hits the mass market. He promised a smartphone priced at $150 by year end.

One of the new models diversifying the Samsung portfolio is expected to be the Galaxy Q, yet another attempt to see whether an unusual screen size hits the spot with consumers - trying the 5-inch format originally seen on the Dell Streak and the Acer Iconia Smart. Most tablets have been around the iPad's size - and Samsung will offer the Galaxy 10.1 in this space - or about 7-inches (Galaxy Tab, PlayBook, HTC Flyer). LG tried 8.9-inches with the G-Slate and Vizio is going for 8-inches with its next gadget, but Samsung is giving the hybrid tablet/phone size another go.

Galaxy Q, which should launch at the IFA show in Berlin in September, will reportedly have a 5.3-inch display. It is expected to use its trademark Super AMOLED Plus technology, as on the 4.3-inch Galaxy S II or the 4.5-inch Infuse 4G (US-only), but not yet seen on tablets. However, Q is unlikely to be running HD - although a Super AMOLED HD device is hotly anticipated, on this screen size that would require 270ppi rather than the technology's current 200ppi.

Of course, looming over all this smartphone progress is the legal battle with Apple over alleged patent and copyright infringements in the Galaxy range - especially in light of HTC's recent setback, which may affect other Android vendors too. Apple suffered a reversal of its own against Samsung at the ITC, though a less serious one, when Judge Lucy Koh pushed back a court date to decide on Apple's request for an injunction against the Korean firm. This will now take place in October, Samsung's preferred timeframe, rather than the early September date demanded by Apple. A date for the actual patent trial remains to be set, with Apple asking for a date in February 2012 and Samsung calling for a later date, and a venue outside California.

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