Olympics Delay Offers Setback to Samsung’s Plans to Win Over Japan Market

For Samsung Electronics, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been going to be its springboard to realize a long-held purpose – making vital inroads into Japan’s profitable smartphone market the place Apple dominates.

However after the Video games have been postponed to 2021 as a result of coronavirus pandemic, the long-time sponsor’s advertising and marketing plans – centred on its new Galaxy S20 smartphone now out too early – have gone awry.

The delay may additionally imply the South Korean tech big has misplaced an important window of alternative. It had been anticipated to tout its 5G functionality in its Olympics adverts, aiming to draw a inhabitants excited to look at the Video games with cutting-edge know-how earlier than Apple had a 5G product available on the market.

Samsung was eager to make use of the Olympics alternative to get it proper in Japan. In that sense, it is a dangerous state of affairs,” an individual accustomed to Samsung’s operations advised Reuters, noting that Samsung and different sponsors must modify plans.

“A number of the momentum for smartphone demand within the lead-up to the Olympics can even be gone,” stated the particular person, who was not authorised to talk on the matter and declined to be recognized.

Former Samsung officers and analysts stated Samsung will possible return to the drafting board to advertise a brand new flagship telephone due out subsequent yr.

When requested in regards to the affect of the Olympics postponement on its technique for the Japan market, Samsung declined to remark, saying solely it might proceed to offer progressive know-how for Japanese clients no matter when the Video games begin.

Samsung could be the world’s No. 1 smartphone maker by quantity but it surely has only a fraction of the Japanese market.

In distinction, Apple which first started promoting the iPhone in Japan in 2008, gained share because of an aggressive promoting and pricing marketing campaign from SoftBank – on the time its sole distributor. Japan has since turn out to be a loyal premium market and key revenue centre for the U.S. agency.

Apple at the moment instructions 53 % of the Japanese market, Sharp has 12 % and Sony has 7 %, based on Counterpoint Analysis. Samsung, which has misplaced floor since 2013, has four %.

Harajuku hopes
Indicative of Samsung’s struggles was its 2015 resolution to drop its identify from smartphones bought in Japan and simply go together with Galaxy branding – the one market the place it does so. It is a transfer some analysts attribute to historic tensions that always flare up between South Korea and its neighbour.

“I imagine they did so as a result of rising variety of Japanese shoppers who take political components into consideration of their buy issues,” stated Shengtao Jin, a analysis analyst at Canalys.

In its run at Apple’s stronghold, Samsung had laid the groundwork for a concerted marketing campaign.

In March final yr, it opened the world’s largest Galaxy retailer in Harajuku, Tokyo’s widespread buying district for youth trend and popular culture. Boasting eight flooring, the glitzy constructing has an exterior adorned with greater than 1,000 smartphones. Samsung’s cellular and community division chief Koh Dong-jin, officers from the Worldwide Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organisers attended the opening ceremony to mark 500 days till the Video games.

Then in Might, Samsung’s inheritor and de facto head, Jay. Y Lee travelled to Japan, assembly with executives from cellular carriers NTT DoCoMo Inc and KDDI Corp to debate 5G cooperation.

DoCoMo and SoftBank Corp, the home telecom arm of SoftBank Group, are at the moment rolling out 5G providers. However the delay of the Video games means 5G just isn’t anticipated to realize momentum till Apple launches a 5G-capable iPhone, analysts stated.

That telephone is predicted to reach by end-2020, although some media studies have stated it could be delayed by the pandemic.

“Samsung might have taken an early lead in 5G however the Video games postponement is a setback,” stated Jeong Okay-hyun, a former LG cellular government and a professor at Sogang College in Seoul.

“The virus might additionally result in delays within the growth of the 5G market, which will probably be a reduction to Apple.”

In the intervening time, it stays to be seen if Samsung will proceed with plans to promote a particular Olympics version Galaxy S20 telephone with 5G functionality. The telephone to be bought by DoCoMo was as a consequence of be launched in June and Samsung started taking pre-orders this month.

Requested if the plan is on monitor, Samsung stated particulars will probably be decided after discussions with the IOC and DoCoMo.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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