When Ranjit Yadav joined Samsung from Hewlett-Packard in 2008, the Korean major’s share in the mobile phone business was hardly anything to talk about. Four years later, the company boasts of a 30 per cent market share of the overall phone market and 45 per cent share of the smart phone segment.

Company insiders give credit to Yadav for his determined pursuit of a single goal — to make Samsung mobile the leader in a market dominated by Finnish major Nokia.

Having earlier worked with companies such as Philips Electronics and Hindustan Unilever, the alumnus of Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, Yadav understood the importance of channel partners and a points-of-sales network.

Sales network

In Samsung, too, he started building a sales network spanning the country. Under him, Samsung’s service points grew to over 2,500 across the country, and the devices are now available in 70,000-80,000 stores in India, a few hundred Smartphone Cafes and digital plazas.

But the timing of Yadav’s exit from Samsung has raised eyebrows as it comes at a critical juncture for the Korean major, which is gunning for the numero uno spot in the Indian phone market. It may still achieve the milestone without Yadav. But his exit is being compared to a batsman who has got out after scoring a century, leaving his team tantalisingly close to winning.

Speculations around Yadav’s exit started in July, which was vehemently denied by the company at that time. In August, he held a press conference to launch a range of ultrabooks, which put all the speculation to rest until his resignation was formally announced last week.

Brand value

But moving from an MNC technology major, with some great products, to an Indian auto maker that’s struggling to keep its market share could be a huge challenge for the economics graduate from Delhi University. Tata Motor’s market share in commercial vehicles was 59.4 per cent for FY 2011-12 but in the passenger vehicles segment the market share stood at 13.1 per cent.

According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), between April and August 2012, Tata Motors’ passenger car sales grew at 8 per cent while rivals were expanding at 11 per cent.

The advantage for Yadav is that there is a lot of similarity between mobile phone market and automobiles. Both are consumer-centric products that sell on brand value and key factors such as after-sales support. Tata Motors will, no doubt, want Yadav to do for it what he did for Samsung mobile phones: a resurrection.

thomas.thomas@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 19, 2012)
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