Samsung Canada had planned to bring a Samsung-branded notebook to the Canadian market in the first quarter of the year, but the challenging economy and a desire to rethink the business case as part of a more integrated product and services play has delayed the launch to the second half of 2009.
Samsung has already launched a branded notebook line in the Asian market and, last fall, entered the U.S. market with a line of Samsung-branded ultralight notebooks designed to compete with products such as Apple’s Macbook Air and some of Austek’s ultralight offerings.
Last fall, the vendor had indicated it was getting its marketing ducks in a row for a Q1 launch in the Canadian market, but in an interview with CDN this week Ron Hulse, vice-president, IT Marketing for Samsung Electronics Canada, indicated those plans have been delayed.
“We’re still in the planning process, and it’s still our full intention to (launch in Canada),” said Hulse. “We’ve not launched yet primarily because we’re not yet ready to go into the Canadian marketplace. Our plan now is to go in the second half, once we’ve nailed-down product and channel decisions.”
He added Samsung’s longer-term belief is that the notebook is the ultimate full functionality device, but it must be paired with smaller products such as netbooks and smartphones, and that the interoperability across those products needs to be there. That’s a value proposition and business case Samsung wants to nail-down before launching in Canada.
“We’re trying to take a longer-term view, and that has contributed to the delay,” said Hulse.
The state of the economy is another factor, said Hulse. He pointed to a 20 per cent decline in LCD monitor sales from Q4 to Q1; a segment that’s a bellwether for the vendor. He added government business all but ended other than a brief flurry in March.
“It’s been a painful quarter for us,” said Hulse, adding it has delayed the notebook launch. “I don’t want to come into a marketplace (with a new product) when capital expenditures are clearly constrained. IDC’s forecasts of a down market are proving to be accurate if not conservative, although we’ll still do reasonably well because of our product strength and our price positioning relative to value.”
When the offering does come to market, Hulse said Samsung wants it to be an offering that meets the needs of both the VAR channel and the carrier channel (pairing notebooks and netbooks with data plans) so product moves through the channel quickly and doesn’t accumulate in warehouses due to lack of market demand.
“We’re still trying to determine for ourselves where we want to have this initially and where we want to build this to,” said Hulse. “But anything Samsung does is always does with the retail and VAR channels in mind. We want products that provide unique value to the channel.”