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(2nd LD) Preorders for Galaxy S8 greater than expected: Samsung's mobile chief

All Headlines 12:52 April 13, 2017

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; ADDS mobile chief's remarks in para 2, more details in paras 7-13)

SEOUL, April 13 (Yonhap) -- Consumer response for Samsung Electronics Co.'s latest high-end smartphone, the Galaxy S8, has been better than expected, the company's mobile division chief said Thursday, with preorders for the flagship device surpassing a whopping 720,000 units in just seven days in South Korea, heralding a major hit for the company.

"Initial market response (for the Galaxy S8) is better than expected," Koh Dong-jin, president of Samsung's mobile communications business, said at a media briefing. "I think the Galaxy S8 will be the first device to regain customers' trust and love," he said.

The company has been trying to put to rest the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7 phablet that was recalled after some caught fire while charging. The high profile incident hurt the company's image.

The Galaxy S8 smartphones feature high resolution displays that bend on both sides and come with various innovative biometric technologies, such as a face recognition scanner and a smart voice assistance program named Bixby.

After showcasing the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus late last month, Samsung Electronics kicked off local preorders on Friday which will last until next Monday. The official release is slated for later in April.

Given the current pace, preorders for the Galaxy S8 series may top 1 million units, industry watchers expect.

Preorders of the Note 7 phablet whose production was discontinued, hit 400,000 units from Aug. 6 to 18.

Visitors experience Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S8 smartphone at a Seoul store in this photo released by Samsung on April 6, 2017. (Yonhap)

The better-than-expected preorders raise hopes that Samsung's new flagship which will officially hit shelves later this month, may sell more than 40 million copies. Local brokerage firms have been estimating sales of the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus could reach around 43-60 million units.

Samsung earlier predicted that its first-quarter operating profit advanced 48.2 percent on-year, apparently helped by the robust performance of its chip business.

Operating profit is estimated at 9.9 trillion won (US$8.76 billion) in the January-March period, compared with 6.68 trillion won posted a year earlier, marking the second-highest quarterly operating profit ever posted by Samsung Electronics.

Although its IT and mobile business is presumed to have posted lackluster earnings because of the Note 7, industry watchers said the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus should change this.

Market experts estimate Samsung to have posted an operating profit around 2.5 trillion won in its IT and mobile segment, hovering far below 3.8 trillion won posted a year earlier. But during the April-June period, the mobile division's performance should improve sharply, they said.

To further consolidate potential gains, Samsung said it will expand the eco-system of the Galaxy 8 series by beefing up cooperation with companies and rolling out various gadgets linked to the smartphone.

The tech firm said it will make efforts to further expand its own mobile payment service, Samsung Pay. Samsung Pay uses magnetic secure transmission technology, allowing users to make transactions with their smartphones, even through traditional credit card machines.

Samsung Pay is already available in 12 countries, including the United States, China and South Korea.

Samsung said that Galaxy S8 users will be able to make financial transactions and authentification more easily compared with past devices by making use of the built-in iris-scanning function, it said.

The company first placed an iris scanner, a popular and unique feature on the Galaxy Note 7, with the S8 getting the same feature. Through the iris scanner, users can log on to websites or make financial transactions.

The Samsung Dex (Yonhap)

Among the cutting-edge features incorporated into the new flagship, the artificial intelligence (AI) system Bixby is a new addition that could give the phones a similar or better user experience compared with rivals like Apple Inc.'s Siri voice recognition system.

The tech giant also introduced the DeX, or Desktop Extension, which allows users to utilize the Galaxy S8 smartphone like a personal computer. Just by inserting the smartphone into the DeX, users will be able to use their handsets like a desktop computer.

Samsung also unveiled a new edition of the Gear 360, a virtual reality camera that has a 360-degree field of view. The first device of its kind was introduced in February last year, along with the Galaxy S7.

The new Gear 360 is easy to use and can take high-resolution motion pictures. Compared with its predecessor, the device is also lighter and more compact, and even has a screw so it can be mounted onto a conventional camera tripod or monopod.

The Samsung Gear 360 (Yonhap)

sam@yna.co.kr
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