Constant innovation is helping us stay at the top: Samsung's Vineet Taneja

R. Dinakaran | Updated on February 24, 2014 Published on February 24, 2014

Vineet Taneja, Samsung India Country Head for Mobile and IT   -  The Hindu

Vineet Taneja, Samsung India’s Country Head for Mobile and IT, has a tough job on his hands. Even as old rivals LG, Sony, and HTC are closing in on Samsung in India, newer entrants like Lenovo and local brands such as Micromax and Karbonn too are steadily increasing their market share.

In a recent interview to Business Line, Taneja says Samsung is well-equipped to deal with the challenges. Excerpts from the interview:

There are new phones like Motorola’s MotoG that offer phones with great specifications at a low price. What are Samsung’s plans for this segment?

Samsung is already present in all price points - starting from Rs 5,000 and going up to Rs 47,000. This is one of Samsung’s greatest strengths. While others may be coming out with cheaper models now, we have been present in this segment for quite some time.

The reason for the success for phones like MotoG is the better specifications at that price point…

I don’t want to comment on what others are doing. You may think it is selling like hot cakes, but I can tell you we have hotter cakes. The proof of the pudding is that we remain market leader across price segments. We ensure that we constantly innovate so that we maintain our position across all segments.

There are local brands like Micromax that are coming out with phones that look similar to Samsung’s - at least in design. And if we go by the price and specifications, they are available at a far lower price point. Many people prefer to have low-priced phones that look similar to high-end models of Samsung. Aren’t you losing market share to them? How do you plan to tackle this?

I cannot talk about other brands and what we are planning to do. We have different strategies. Some are public, and some are not.

Samsung is concentrating more on Android phones now. You had phones like Focus that ran Windows. Even compared to your own Bada, the focus seems to be only on Android. Why is that?

Our strategy is to offer consumers what they are looking for. We do a lot of work with consumers...we do a lot of research… and we launch our products based on the insights that come from that research. Any company would want to have a focussed strategy. One can’t do everything everywhere. We have to take some calls, especially in the technology space.

Our own experience of developing the Samsung’s unique experience on the Android platform has been very successful. That’s where we have chosen to build on. We have gained and maintained leadership, not only in India, but everywhere, based on that strategy. And this has worked for us.

You say you have phones at all price points. Don’t you think this could be confusing to the consumers and the retailers? There are people who say they can’t exactly decide what they want because of so many devices with minor differences in specifications and prices.

No. In fact, retailers tell us that they want even more. And regarding consumers, if there was a price point or feature that they did not want, we would not be there. The first thing that the consumer does is to decide how much he wants to spend on a phone. So, if we are not present in those price points, we have a problem. We now have a very nice, laddered portfolio. And we have done a lot of work to find out the price points we should cover. We now have a very scientific way of deciding our portfolio.

Do you plan to have more manufacturing hubs in India? Don’t you think it is cost effective to make phones in India?

A vast majority of what we sell is manufactured locally. We are capable of manufacturing our entire range in India, but it also depends on the global supply chain management. There are a lot of factors that go into deciding what gets manufactured where.

There are many users who would prefer a physical keypad in their phones. Especially those who are used to BlackBerrys. Samsung had a couple of Android phones like Galaxy Chat with physical keypads. Do you plan to bring out any now?

If there is a consumer need, we would definitely look into it. Having a full screen has various advantages. The advantage with a full touch screen is the screen size. The moment you have a physical keyboard, the screen size comes down. And with a virtual keyboard, you can do a lot with it. You can change the language, you can change the type of keyboard. We feel that a bigger screen size gives greater advantages to the consumer.

Any change will always be difficult for a first few days, but once you get used to a virtual keyboard, there is nothing like it. Once you get used to a virtual keypad in a large screen phone, there is no way you can go back to a physical keypad.

What about your other platforms like Bada and Tizen? Any new launches? Will Bada and Tizen coexist?

We can’t say anything now on how they will evolve. The way forward is still being worked out.

Aren’t you spreading your resources thin with so many platforms - Android, Windows, Bada and now Tizen?

You are assuming all that (smiles). And we have feature phones in Bada, and it is not eating up too much of our resources. Our focus on building the Galaxy range on the Android platform has been successful, and we are focussing on that.

What about KNOX? How is it different from BlackBerry Enterprise Solution? How do companies control their employees’ phones through KNOX?

Knox is a security solution that companies can use if they think there are security issues with the devices used by employees. It also helps the consumer. Most of the consumers have moved to the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) concept. Employees are asked to bring their own device and use it for both professional and their personal work. Knox enables the employees to have almost two phones in one. The professional phone, which is secure and the second personal phone - on the same device. They can keep their personal data on the personal section, which is not accessible by the enterprise managers. So, even privacy issues are resolved.

For an enterprise to control KNOX, you need a device management system. You can use KNOX individually without that, but you can use it only as a secure space within your phone. But for a CIO to control what you can or cannot do with your phone, he needs a device manager.

How is KNOX useful for an individual outside an enterprise environment?

It is like having two phones. One is your personal phone and the other is a company phone. You can keep both personal and company data separate. So with one phone, you have solved the security issue for your company, while at the same time, keeping your personal data separate.

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Published on February 24, 2014
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