To halt smartphone slide, Samsung rewrites playbook

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From the way it chooses smartphone components to the models it brings to market, Samsung Electronics has undergone a painful process of breaking from its past to reverse a slide in its handset business. For example, the world’s largest smartphone maker tormented over camera specs for its flagship Galaxy S7 until the last moment – ultimately defying industry convention by opting for fewer pixels in exchange for improved autofocus features and low-light performance, a move that contributed to early success.

It also pared back its product line-up, overcoming internal resistance, allowing it to streamline production, an executive said. The handset business has now stabilized, and had its best profit in nearly two years in January-March, though historically low smartphone industry growth still leaves Samsung looking for the “next big thing”. “We’ve now gotten to a point where we can secure a baseline profit even if the market stagnates, so long as we don’t make a bad mistake,” said Kim Gae-youn, vice president in charge of Samsung’s smartphone product planning. “I’m confident we can hold our ground.”