Samsung, the world's No.2 mobile-phone maker, believes it can improve its global market share by at least three percentage points this year, J.K. Shin, the president of Samsung Mobile, told MarketWatch in an interview on Sunday.
He made the remarks as Samsung unveiled the Wave, the first phone to run on its new Bada operating system, at a press conference in Barcelona, where Mobile World Congress kicks off Monday.
The event is the largest annual gathering of the wireless telecoms industry and is considered by many handset makers as the best stage from which to launch new handsets.
Samsung's global market share topped 20% last year, up from 17% in 2008, and Shin said the firm targets at least the same market-share gains this year. Samsung is already number one in a few countries including South Korea, its home market, the U.S. and France.
Shin on Sunday said Samsung, which until recently was known for its sleek featured phones but had little presence at the high end, plans to bring so-called smart phones to everyone, regardless of location and economic means.
"We plan to democratize smart phones," he said.
Smart phones have an operating system and processing power that make them similar to a pared-down computer. In addition to serving as telephones, they can usually be used as a camera, digital music player, Internet-browsing and personal-navigation device.
Their price so far, however, has meant that smart phones have been confined to a small fraction of the mobile-phone-owning population. But as chips and other components gets cheaper, Samsung believes the smart phone will expand down-market.
Shin said he believes the price of a smart phone will drop to below $200 this year. Many, including Apple's latest iPhone models and top-of-the-range handsets from the likes of Nokia Corp. and HTC, cost at least twice as much.
About 20% of the 1.2 billion phones predicted to be sold in 2010 will be smart phones.
Samsung did not reveal the price of the Wave on Sunday.
Despite its ambitions in the smart-market, Shin said Samsung has no plans to drop any of the four different operating systems for which it makes phones.
Industry observers have long argued that there are too many operating systems out there for the industry's own good and that some will disappear in the next two years as they fail to sustain the attention of developers. It's also very expensive for a manufacturer to make phones on several platforms.
Samsung makes phones that run Symbian, Microsoft's Windows Mobile, Google's Android and now Bada, but Shin said the diversity, although it comes at a financial cost, is important for the company to retain a global presence in all segments of the market.