Despite still being neck and neck with Apple when it comes to smartphone sales, Samsung has had it rough over the past year—as profits fell for the first time since 2011. In response, the company has gone in a new direction, with an increased focus on Internet-connected devices and the Internet of Things to appeal to high-end customers.
Another prong of its strategy to turn things around is becoming increasingly apparent: home in on the needs of the developing market. Three weeks ago, the company launched its Tizen-running Samsung Z1 smartphone in India, and today, it has followed up by also making it available for sale in neighboring Bangladesh—where there’s a potential market of 150 million. In doing so, it hopes to challenge low-end phone manufacturers like Xiaomi, which snatched away Samsung’s lead not long ago.
The Samsung Z1 itself is bare-bones in both features and price tag. It costs just $90, and sports a four-inch WVGA screen, 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, 768 MB of RAM, 1500 mAh battery, 3.1-megapixel camera, and 4 GB of storage, in addition to a microSD card slot. According to the Wall Street Journal, Samsung is heavily pushing the “lightweight” aspect of its Tizen operating system, since it requires very little computing power to carry out most tasks customers require.
Samsung’s not the only tech company pushing this angle. After years of trying to squeeze every bit of functionality possible out of devices and apps, the expansion of tech companies into developing markets has led to a reevaluation of how to best target new customers. For instance, Facebook recently debuted a new “Lite” version of its mobile app, specifically designed for areas with poor-quality Internet connections. Google also yesterday unveiled Street View in Bangladesh, with support from the Bangladeshi government.
Whether Samsung’s strategy—along with those from these other companies—is enough to secure a victory in a rapidly expanding market remains to be seen. But if they can’t, it sure won’t be for lack of trying.
[via Wall Street Journal]