Dubai: Samsung is placing its bets on an earlier-than-usual launch - and on AI - to drive increased smartphone sales this year. “We are definitely looking at (the early launch strategy) as a point of differentiation,” said Fadi Abu Shamat, Head of Mobile Experience Division at Samsung Gulf Electronics. “We are establishing a new category - and this technology is a first-of-its-kind in the region.”
Shamat said the S24 series experienced a substantial 42 per cent year-on-year rise in pre-orders, primarily driven by consumer interest in the UAE. Samsung typically launches its flagship S-series smartphones in February or March each year. However, the S24 series was unveiled on January 15 and launched in the UAE on January 29.
The launch event, which showcased the ‘Live Translation’ capabilities of the phone, had DooHee Lee, President of Samsung Gulf Electronics, stating: “By incorporating advanced capabilities into our new devices, we aspire to support the UAE’s vision to become one of the leading nations in AI by 2031.”
The S24 series is now available in retail outlets across the UAE. The base model, the 128 GB version, is priced at Dh3,199 and the top-end model, the S24 Ultra 1TB, is at Dh6,599.
While acknowledging potential competition from other phone-makers later in the year, Samsung said it remains focused on assessing how AI will influence consumer habits. Shamat said, “Of course, we know others will join this category, but for now, we are more focused on seeing the effect the Galaxy AI will have on the daily lives of our consumers.
“For us, transitioning into AI is a critical milestone. The excitement surrounding the S24 series is just the beginning of future AI-enabled devices. What makes us particularly thrilled is not just the technical aspect of the R&D glamour; it’s about witnessing how AI can genuinely improve our consumers’ daily lives.”
Smartphone demand rebound
Samsung expects the smartphone market to rebound in 2024 as consumer sentiment stabilizes in anticipation of a global economic recovery, leading to market growth, especially in the premium segment. Shamat said the phone maker has plans to unveil phones in its Z series (Fold and Flip) before the end of the first-half of 2024.
The world’s most prolific smartphone-maker also said it has completely recovered from supply chain disruptions plaguing the industry post-2020. “We don’t predict any market headwinds either,” he added. “The semiconductor industry is at a stable upward trend, and memory chip supply and demand are at a sweet spot. And demand for end-product smartphones is presently very stable.”
While the S24 is considered the most premium offering from Samsung, the company is hopeful that the three different iterations will make it more accessible to a broader segment of consumers. “We are witnessing a preference for premium consumption, particularly in the Gulf and UAE markets. The Plus offering is much more resilient and has growing demand,” added Shamat.
The nol wallet will be made available on Samsung devices, said Mohammed Al-Mudharreb, CEO of Technology Support Services at Dubai RTA. Al-Mudharreb said: “We have closed 2023 with remarkable growth. We closed the year with an average of 2.5 million daily transactions and collected revenue exceeding Dh2 billion. The nol wallet would now be available on Samsung devices.”
This means public transport users in Dubai can use their Samsung devices to access the city’s Metro and other public transport offerings. “This collaboration has huge potential when it comes to using the nol card as it is not limited to the use of public transport alone. The nol wallet can also be used at 15,000 retail outlets in the UAE,” he explained.
Last year, RTA agreed with Samsung Gulf Electronics to enable digital nol cards on Samsung smart devices through the nol payment platform (nolPay App).