New Delhi: Korean electronics giant Samsung is luring major distributors of world’s largest cell phone player Nokia to switch side in its bid to double the market share to over 15% in India this year.
“The distribution network of Samsung’s mobile will be strengthened with SSK-the largest distributor of Nokia in the West, and Link - another Nokia distributor in the East, moving to the Samsfold,” said Sunil Dutt, India country head, Samsung Telecommunications.
Nokia, however, refused to comment on Samsung’s move. When contacted a company official said: “we have a robust distribution network comprising over a lakh retail outlets and 200 distributors. We have long term relation with our distributors and our main focus is consumer needs”.
Dutt claimed besides Nokia’s two regional level distributors, in all about 40 dealers of the Finnish mobile giant have switched over to Samsung in the last few months.
He said that the company has also planned to increase the headcount in the handset division by 50%. He, however, declined to give number of people to be recruited and the present strength.
Samsung has a manufacturing facility in Noida and is able to meet the local demand along with imports of high end handsets.
Hoping that India will require 100 million handsets in 2008, Samsung is planning to have a share of over 15 million in all segments, Dutt said adding “we would like to have presence in all price segments and has lined up launching a number of new devices during the year.”
Nokia officials also said that they were not aware of any such development and the company, moreover, does not comment on competition and their plans.
“We have not witnessed any such trend. Nokia is a very strong brand globally and at any given point of time there is a wait list of people who want to sign up as Nokia Priority Dealers,” the officials said.
“Making our distributors successful and profitable is a way of working for Nokia and we will continue to do that,” they said.
On the other hand, Samsung said their enhanced distribution strength will help them reach out to retail partners at a faster pace and address the needs of 85%of the market in terms of its reach. Currently, the Samsung penetration level in the country for mobiles is around 55%.
Samsung India which has just launched its Guru100 entry level mobile phone at the sub Rs2,000 price bracket has planned a slew of new mobile launches across the imaging , music, business and lifestyle categories at the forthcoming Mobile Asia.
Besides, the company is also in discussion with all the leading service providers like Idea Cellular, Airtel, BSNL and others for a possible tie up to provide handsets along with mobile phone connections. Although the discussions are at advance stage, no agreement has yet been inked with any of the operator.