According to the South China Morning Post, no Samsung model has featured among the top ten selling smartphones in China over the past two years and the company now has market share of just over 2% compared with 20% five years ago.
In its analysis of Samsung’s decline in China, the Post observed that the company has failed to keep pace with local rivals, such as Xiaomi and Huawei, in developing features that appeal to the particular requirements of Chinese consumers.
Domestic brands, it said, are keenly aware of Chinese consumer demand for selfies and 'wefies', as well as the trend for playing games on smartphones.
Oppo’s R11 model, for example, is very popular in China – not least because of a successful marketing campaign in second and third-tier cities that highlighted the phone’s selfie function.
“The poor performance of Samsung in China derives from the fact that it couldn’t keep pace with Chinese customers’ requirements and at the same time domestic players were being proactive to satisfy user demands,” said James Yan, Beijing-based Research Director at Counterpoint Technology.
Samsung also suffered a hit to its reputation after it was forced to recall its Galaxy Note 7 device in October 2016 following reports of battery fires.
And political tensions between China and South Korea have also played their part, such as South Korea’s support for a US anti-missile defence system in the region prompting the Beijing authorities to encourage a boycott of Korean products.
However, with the launch of its Galaxy S9 flagship model at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Samsung may be hoping it can turn its fortunes around.
The device features advanced video and audio applications designed to appeal to younger consumers, and Samsung has engaged two of China’s most popular young actors, Zhu Yawen and Jing Boran, as celebrity endorsers.
The question for some observers is whether that will be enough. “To lead the space Samsung must accelerate its transition towards more content, services, software innovation and partnerships,” said Thomas Husson, an analyst at Forrester.
Sourced from South China Morning Post, Reuters; additional content by WARC staff