Samsung Hits Leadership Snag at Crucial Juncture

by Matt Klassen on February 6, 2015

Technology titan Samsung hit an unforeseen snag earlier this week, as its head of mobile marketing Kim Seok-pil suddenly stepped down less than a month ahead of the company’s launch of the next Galaxy S flagship smartphone.  While the departure was reportedly due to health reasons and not performance and with some assurances that Kim will eventually return to Samsung, the company wasted no time in appointing his successor, Lee Sang-chul, who, according to Reuters, was the former head of the company’s Russian operations and who once served as the head of the company’s Latin American operations as well.

Samsung has struggled of late; reporting less than stellar mobile numbers for several successive quarters and seeing its global market share diminish for two consecutive years. Further, the company is facing pressure in key markets, particularlyChina, where the likes of Xiaomi, Lenovo, and Huawei are starting to grow.

With the launch of the new Galaxy S smartphone a month away Lee certainly has his work cut out for him, as the company can nary afford another relative flop like the Galaxy S5. In fact, with Samsung’s global dominance slipping and with early reports indicating that Apple may have in fact dethroned the Korean company for top spot in the worldwide smartphone market, this release may be the most important in the company’s history in the mobile market.

To say that Kim’s departure couldn’t come at a worse time for Samsung would be an understatement, as the company is in the midst of a marketing blitz leading up to its mysterious March 1st release event. While the company is still a dominant player in the mobile sector, recently it has started to lose its grip on the worldwide market. In fact, although Samsung was still top smartphone vendor worldwide in 2014, it was only able to capture 28 percent of the market, down from 32.5 percent a year earlier. Not only that, but analysts fully expect the slide to continue to somewhere around 26.6 percent in 2015, as reported by market research group TrendForce.

Unable to deny the numbers, Samsung has admitted that it is currently struggling in the mobile space, undercut and out-performed by a myriad of up-and-coming companies in several of the firm’s key mobile markets. In response Samsung has started to take more drastic measures, cutting its production quotas for this year as it tries to reign in the losses it faced in 2014 from unsold inventory.

Further, the company has acknowledged as well that it may have got carried away with its strategy of a smartphone for every niche, noting that its fervour for providing an unprecedented variety of smartphones meant that it didn’t focus enough on its key money-makers, something the firm promised it would change this year.

But exactly how Samsung will change its strategy remains unclear, as the company has remained tight-lipped about its March 1st release event, sending out invitations that hint at a curved device that may or may not be the Galaxy S6. Regardless of what we see at the event though, Lee will be tasked with bringing it to the masses.

So as Samsung stands at a vital crossroads, a company that can definitely not afford another smartphone flop, it finds itself with a relatively newcomer to the marketing game, at least on a global scale, and in that man’s hands likely rests the fate of the new Galaxy S smartphone and perhaps even the fate of the company’s mobile division…no pressure.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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