Entry point

Samsung is preparing to enter the lion's den when it launches its own range of notebooks in the Middle East region later this year.

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By  Andrew Seymour Published  November 6, 2008

Samsung is preparing to enter the lion's den when it launches its own range of notebooks in the Middle East region later this year. While the electronics vendor has its work cut out breaking into such a crowded and established market, the managing director of its IT division in the Gulf region, Madhav Narayan, is confident of proving the sceptics wrong.

Samsung has been selling notebooks in Europe and Korea for a while now. Why has it taken you so long to launch them in the Middle East?

Samsung launched notebooks in Europe on a country by country basis and the approach was to understand the markets, position the products and build the infrastructure to ensure we delivered the core values of Samsung.

The early birds have had the first-mover advantage, but then they would have had the disadvantage of not really knowing what products to offer, how to position them or what channels to use.

Getting to understand markets and offering the right products at the right place at the right time has been a very successful strategy. As we started growing in terms of products and business volume, it was a natural step that the products would be made available in some of the key emerging markets.

With that initiative and the fact that Samsung Gulf is a fairly established subsidiary here in the region with a huge base of customers, channel partners and distributors, it was only natural that Samsung would start looking at the Middle East, especially as the regional market is growing more than 60% year-on-year in some cases.

Will you be targeting your notebook range at the entire Middle East region or just specific countries?

The launch is primarily going to be in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The strategy is always to go market by market and it is only logical that we start with those two because the UAE and Saudi Arabia are the biggest markets in the region for notebooks. Roughly almost 60% of the notebooks get sold in those two markets.

Are there plans to eventually launch outside the UAE and Saudi Arabia?

We will eventually do that, but there is no fixed timeline on it. We have chosen the biggest markets in the region first and as the business becomes successful, and the rest of the infrastructure is developed, we will look at other markets.

When can channel partners in the UAE and Saudi Arabia expect to take delivery of mobile PC products?

The launch is slated for December so the channel can expect the delivery of products in the early weeks of December.

The launch is currently being tentatively planned for mid-December because we want to make sure that when we announce the first day of the commercial launch the products are there in the stores.

Is your intention to target both the consumer and corporate segments?

We are introducing consumer notebooks first. We do have a commercial range too, which will be available next year. The objective is to enter into the space where Samsung is pretty strong in terms of percentage.

The consumer sector was a no-brainer, also because of the fact that if you look at the notebook market in the region today it is fair to say that almost 65% to 70% of it consists of consumer notebooks.

Are you giving any consideration to the notebook channel strategies of your competitors as you plan your own go-to-market approach?

We are factoring that in and studying what has been successful, but at the end of the day what we will come out with will be something that is relevant to us and which we think could be an important element in our success.

It will factor in the current competitive landscape and the way competitors are approaching the market, as well as Samsung success stories in other markets. If a distribution model in a particular country has been very successful then we want to look at that.

The notebook PC market in this region is full of established brand names such as Acer and HP. What is your response to industry critics who say Samsung is coming too late to the table to make an impact?

The point here is that we have a very distinct advantage because there is a thorough understanding of what's really going on.

The early birds will have had the first-mover advantage, but then they would have had the disadvantage of not really knowing what products to offer, how to position them or what channels to use.

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