Samsung Eyes Young Buyers with Gaming, Music-Friendly Galaxy Note 9

Samsung Eyes Young Buyers with Gaming, Music-Friendly Galaxy Note 9

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The new Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is seen during a product launch event in Brooklyn
The new Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is seen during a product launch event in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
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By Heekyong Yang and Ju-min Park
SEOUL (Reuters)

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd unveiled the Galaxy Note 9 “phablet” in New York on Thursday in a key product launch that it hopes will attract younger customers with stepped-up features and services for gamers and music-lovers

Launching the Note 9 at 11 a.m. in New York, or Friday midnight in Seoul, Samsung also announced partnerships with global hit game Fortnite and music-streaming service Spotify Technology SA in a stepped-up challenge to Apple Inc in the premium-phone race.

 

Samsung employees wave from stage beneath an image of the new Samsung Galaxy Note 9 during a product launch event in Brooklyn
Samsung employees wave from stage beneath an image of the new Samsung Galaxy Note 9 during a product launch event in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

 

Samsung’s new focus marks a shift away from its previous positioning of the Note as a multi-tasking device popular with graphic designers and artists.

But the hefty price tag – at $999.99 for the base 128 gigabyte model, according to U.S. carrier Verizon Communications Inc – has raised questions as to whether features such as a longer battery life and quick cooling would be enough to attract customers.

 

DJ Koh, Samsung's Mobile Communications Division President and CEO gestures from the stage during a Samsung product launch event in Brooklyn
DJ Koh, Samsung’s Mobile Communications Division President and CEO gestures from the stage during a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 product launch event in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

 

“I couldn’t find anything that was eye-catching enough to prompt customers to ignore the high price tag,” said Greg Roh, an analyst at Hyundai Motor Securities.

Shares of Samsung were down 3.5 percent in Seoul, mirroring weakness in other chip-related stocks.

 

 

Samsung is under pressure to jump-start faltering smartphone sales after posting its slowest quarterly profit growth in more than a year, as rivals such as China’s Huawei Technologies nipped at its heels with cheaper, feature-packed models.

The Note 9 will support up to 1 terabyte of memory – a 512GB version that can take another 512GB through a memory card – making Samsung the first major smartphone maker to sell a 1TB phone.

 

The new Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is seen displayed during a product launch event in Brooklyn
The new Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is seen displayed during a product launch event in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

 

The phablet – a cross between a smartphone and a tablet – will hit stores on Aug. 24, Samsung said.

Verizon said the Note 9 will be available for pre-order from Aug. 10, with the 512GB model priced at $1,249.99. Sprint Corp will introduce the device on Aug. 24 at a 50 percent discount as part of a promotional scheme.

 

MUSIC AND GAMES

The Note 9 is the first Android phone to support Fortnite, a hugely popular video-and-smartphone survival game that was only playable on computers, consoles and Apple products until now.

 

A person holds the new Samsung Galaxy Watch during a Samsung product launch event in Brooklyn
A person holds the new Samsung Galaxy Watch during a Samsung product launch event in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

 

It also comes with a Bluetooth-enabled stylus designed to act as a remote for snapping photos and controlling YouTube video playback.

The New York event also featured a Samsung Galaxy watch and Galaxy Home speaker, a device that will use its Bixby voice assistant and compete with similar products from Amazon.com Inc , Apple and Alphabet Inc’s Google.

 

A man uses an Apple iPhone with a cracked screen to photograph the news Samsung Galaxy Watch during a Samsung product launch event in Brooklyn
A man uses an Apple iPhone with a cracked screen to photograph the news Samsung Galaxy Watch during a Samsung product launch event in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

 

Spotify will be supported on the speakers, along with all other Samsung devices – news that sent shares in the music-streaming service provider up nearly 5 percent.

Samsung is counting on the Note 9 to outsell the Note 8 to stem a sales slump. It said last month its flagship Galaxy S9 phone missed sales targets, sending profits in the mobile division down by a third in the April-June quarter.

 

Ji Soo Yi, Samsung's Vice President of AI Strategy describes the new Samsung Home smart speaker during a product launch event in Brooklyn, New York
Ji Soo Yi, Samsung’s Vice President of AI Strategy describes the new Samsung Home smart speaker during a product launch event in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

 

Samsung does not break out shipments of its smartphone models, but analysts reckon it has shipped around 10 million Note 8 models so far.

“The jury is still out if the device can boost sales of Samsung’s premium category,” mobile phone market tracker Counterpoint Research said in a blog, pointing to stiff competition from the iPhone X, Huawei’s P20 Pro and the Find X from China’s Oppo Electronics.

 

The new Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is seen during a product launch event in Brooklyn
The new Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is seen during a product launch event in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

 

“The price is a big factor.”

Huawei predicted last week it would become the world’s top smartphone seller by volume – displacing Samsung – in the final quarter of next year, while Apple sold more of its $1,000 iPhone Xs in the June quarter.

 

(Reporting by Heekyong Yang in Seoul and Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru; Writing by Ju-min Park; Editing by Sayantani Ghosh and Chang-Ran Kim)

 

Elina Vives, Samsung’s Senior Director of Marketing describes the new Samsung Galaxy Watch during a product launch event in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

 

The new Samsung Galaxy Watch is seen displayed during a Samsung product launch event in Brooklyn
The new Samsung Galaxy Watch is seen displayed during a Samsung product launch event in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

 

Daniel Ek, CEO of Spotify speaks at a Samsung product launch event in Brooklyn
Daniel Ek, CEO of Spotify speaks at a Samsung product launch event in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson