News Column

$13.6bn R&D investments 'driving our sales success'

May 25, 2014

Asim Al-Qahtani, visual display product manager for Samsung Electronics, Saudi Arabia.


The GCC is a market, which is very enthusiastic about home entertainment technology, according to Asim Al-Qahtani, visual display product manager for Samsung Electronics, Saudi Arabia.

Further, research and development (R&D) is the process that underpins every new product that enters the market, he told Arab News in an interview.

In 2013 alone, as much as $13.6 billion was invested in R&D, he said, adding that the company has 67,000 employees working in R&D alone.

These are highlights of the interview:

The market for visual display (VD) equipment, especially the television segment of the market, is notoriously competitive. How does Samsung maintain its position at the top of this market?

Samsung is the world's number one in terms of sales revenue, and have been for the last eight years in the TV industry, and number one in the Kingdom for the last two years. The goal of course, when having reached the top, is to remain there. That Samsung has been able to do so is down to a number of factors, chief among them being our dedication to innovation. Samsung Electronics has been responsible for some hugely successful models using LED, UHD (Ultra High Definition) and Curved OLED technologies, and this spirit of innovation continues with our new Curved UHD product range. Our overall philosophy is to listen to our customers and to meet and exceed their expectations. This is what drives our sales success and it is hoped that this philosophy will place Samsung among the world's top five brands by 2020.

What is it that sets Samsung apart from its competitors?

Samsung employs a very clear global strategy of marketing activities, which begin with listening to our customers and bringing them the products they want. For example, our 'blue chip' products employ a system of integration whereby our products can be interlinked thanks to the smart evolution kit (TV to computer, to smartphone, to fridge, to washing machine, and so forth). The evolution of Samsung into market leader actually originated with our enormous success in the smart phone market. Using this as bedrock, the company has translated this success across all its business units thanks to a clear strategy and marketing activities, which is another reason why we enjoy such a large share of the television market.

How successful is the Samsung television brand in the Arab World and in the Kingdom specifically?

Samsung is a global brand, enjoying success in markets worldwide. This includes the Arab world and, as I previously mentioned, our position as market leader in Saudi Arabia. Demand for our products is driven by the trust that customers have in the Samsung brand, which has been hard-earned. When people think of Samsung, they imagine a product of quality, one that is better than the rest. Overall, we remain the most popular technology brand, according to the YouGov Brand Index in Saudi Arabia.

Samsung's Curved UHD TV is considered a first in home entertainment technology. How successful will this TV be in Saudi Arabia and do you believe it will meet the objective it was designed for?

The Curved UHD TV will be available in the Kingdom from June and, naturally, we're both confident and hopeful that it will be a success. The GCC is a market, which is very enthusiastic about home entertainment technology and this is what gives us confidence of continued success here. Further, research and development (R&D) is the process that underpins every product we bring to market. In 2013 alone, $13.6 billion was invested in R&D. We have 67,000 employees working in R&D alone.

Tell us more about the specifications of the Curved UHD TV and its design...

Samsung Curved TV was designed specifically to complement home design. Samsung's One Design concept, a philosophy to simplify advanced components to create a more aesthetically appealing product, was applied to the Samsung Curved TVs, eliminating unnecessary elements to highlight the curve, making it simpler and easier for an immersive viewing experience. As every part of the screen maintains the same distance with the viewer, the curved form factor improves the already amazing UHD viewing experience enveloping viewers in spectacular color and beauty.

What about the concept behind the design? Can you highlight its features?

The concept behind the curved screen was a simple one to massively enhance the viewing experience. The curve draws the viewer in like never before to create a truly immersive entertainment experience. In order to give people an optimal viewing experience on a curved screen, Samsung researched and studied the size of the average living room and calculated the optimal curvature, 4200R, providing a perfect panoramic effect when viewed at the optimal distance of 3-4 meters between screen and viewer. At 4200R, a curved screen can lessen the distortion that occurs between the viewing angle of a viewer's eyes and a screen. Other features include Samsung's Pure Color technology and our Auto Depth Enhancement (ADE) both of which are made that much more effective in augmenting picture quality because of the television's UHD capacity. The ADE function, unique to Samsung, analyzes the images and spaces, which automatically adjust the contrast for the viewer. This gives unparalleled picture depth and generates a near three-dimensional effect without the need for 3D glasses. In short, the Curved UHD TV is both beautiful to watch, and beautiful to look at.

Do you have any intention to add customized TV applications for the Saudi market?

Samsung is committed to the development of local customized applications wherever possible. Indeed, we started the development of local applications suited to Saudi consumers with the first real breakthrough in Smart TV technology in 2012. We are always looking at ways to continue to develop our products, based on the requirements of consumers in the region. The customer is king, after all.

Some people consider that the pricing of Samsung's products is somewhat elitist. What would you say to this?

To be frank, I could not disagree more. While it's true that our products have a reputation for high quality and innovation, and the prices of our 'top-end' products reflect this, we have a very diverse product range whose prices suit nearly all pockets. For example, some of our entry level flat-screen televisions are very keenly priced indeed, and deliver very small margins both for us as manufacturer, and for the retailer. What our entry-level products do achieve, though, is familiarity with the Samsung brand for all strata of society, and proves that it is possible to provide a quality product at a competitive price. We're not a brand for the upper class; we are a brand for the world.

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Source: Arab News (Saudi Arabia)

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