Sales of Samsung handsets in Bangladesh went up by 25 percent to 1.50 lakh pieces in the second quarter of 2012. An aggressive marketing campaign and the launch of a series of mobile phones targeting the low- and middle-end segment of the market, account for the rise in sales.
But South Korea’s electronic giant said the growth would be much higher if the government took measures against the fake and parallel imports of handsets.
Monthly sales of mobile handsets are Tk 350 crore in the local market, with around 10 percent of those sets sourced through parallel imports (PI), said Hasan Mehdi, the head of Samsung Mobile Bangladesh.
PI handsets make their way to the country via authorised dealers who have the permission from Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission to import handsets.
Also, some Bangladeshi businessmen sneak quite a few sets into the local market, bypassing the customs.
These sets tend to come without any warranty as the vendors do not have the service licence for them.
Often, the PI sets turn out to be counterfeits, Mehdi said.
“It is very difficult to stop the PI process as a handset company,” he said.
“Government should come forward. This PI has created a negative perception on the brand and its product quality. We are losing at least 20-25 percent business for this.”
He added that PI handsets have duplicate IMEI numbers, so “it is a national security issue” as well.
Around 4.5 million pieces of handsets were sold in Bangladesh market during the April-June period of 2012, according to industry insiders.
Samsung holds around 10 percent of the handset market in Bangladesh.
At present, the company is selling 14 different models of handsets in Bangladesh, with their prices ranging from Tk 1,890 to Tk 67,500.
Recently, the company launched low-priced dual-SIM sets to cater to the low-end segment of the market.
For the middle-income segment, it launched feature-heavy handsets, such as the Champ and Y series, priced between Tk 5,500 and Tk 15,000.
The company introduced high-end products such as the Galaxy Note, Galaxy S and Galaxy S3 smartphones and the Galaxy Tab in the local market to lure in business executives. Galaxy Y, with the price tag of Tk 12,900, was the top selling handset in Bangladesh during the second quarter of this year, Mehdi said.
Samsung is competing with the industry leader Nokia and other brands — Sony Ericsson, Symphony, and LG Electronics — to grab a share of the youth market. The company plans to sell eight lakh handsets worth around $100 million this year, Choon Soo Moon, managing director of Samsung Electronics, Bangladesh, recently told The Daily Star.
The Seoul-based conglomerate opened its branch in Bangladesh in 2009, and it is not involved in any direct sales in Bangladesh. Transcom Mobile Ltd is its official distributor for mobile handsets.
-With The Daily Star input