Samsung - interview (English)
We talked to Mr Sun Hong Lim, Vice President, Sales and Marketing team, Digital Imaging Business, Samsung Electronics
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Dimitri Kroupski: Most of visitors of our site are photo enthusiasts, so most of the questions are about the NX series. When NX10 was launched two years ago, and the NX100 announced, Samsung looked great, it was one of the first mirrorless camera manufacturer, and the quality of the new cameras was very nice. How do you evaluate those years that passed, were they successful?
Sun Hong Lim: Yes, since we introduced NX 100 in 2010, and then we upgraded to NX200 in 2011, and finally we introduced the full line-ups with NX 20, NX1000 and 210, in those two years we have introduced 4 new models so far, so right now the NX1000 is the most affordable around the world, and also by introducing the NX20 most premium, and also we're replacing NX200 with NX 210, those models are very well accepted. We feel a lot of confidence that we can beat the leader's market from now on with those new models, by introducing new technologies and then more line-ups. As you know, actually we are focused on the abilities of the market, and the market index.
DK: Can you share some specific figures about the market shares?
SHL: I was not prepared to give specific numbers, but the good thing is that since we introduced those 3 line-ups, our share is growing, and by the end of this year we expect a double-digit market share throughout the world.
DK: Maybe in Korea the numbers are even higher?
SHL: In Korea the share is more than 35% among the mirrorless cameras, so we're leading the market there.
DK: At present, all or nearly all big manufacturers have introduced their mirrorless line-ups, so how do you consider this? Are you welcoming them, or consider them as competitors and are afraid of them?
SHL: Actually, even though we share the market, all the companies go their own way. Canon only introduced one model, so we don't have any results yet, but we're watching out. As I told you, we're focusing on the mirrorless, but the other companies are doing both DSLR and mirrorless. We have more freedom to focus on the mirrorless than the others, because they have to take care of those other line-ups together.
DK: Do you have plans to make nearly professional cameras? Mirrorless, but of higher level.
SHL: Yes, we are considering it, but not this year.
DK: As far as I know, there will be no new models this year.
SHL: This year we have already launched 3 cameras. No more big news (laughs). The market is changing very fast, so we're focusing on the wireless connectivity and platforms.
DK: So when can we expect new models? Or maybe new lenses, can you share some plans?
SHL: Actually, we just introduced 2 new lenses. The 45 F/1.8. There is a prototype on the exhibition, it's not the final one, but 95% like the final one, you can try it. In October we will introduce the sample images from this lens.
DK: Some of our site visitors, NX users, consider the new camera models as an evolutionary step from NX 200, which with the firmware updates shoots like those new models. Basically, the only new capability of the new cameras is Wi-Fi connectivity. Do you agree with them?
SHL: Actually, the sensor is indeed the same, but each model has different specifications and a different design concept, and a different atmosphere. So I don't agree with your visitors, it's four different cameras, the only common thing is the sensor. But we believe that the 20 Mp sensor has the highest quality, this is a benefit. Based on the sensor, each model has different specifications for different experience. The NX20 is more similar to a DSLR type and more comfortable to a premium user, but the NX210 has a more retro style, and NX1000 is appealing to the young people, that's why we introduced it in eight different colours. Our customers are very different to each other.
DK: Soon Apple will start the iPhone 5, and their conception of the market is very different: they only make one model. This differentiation of buyers into target groups is understandable, but Apple have a different concept. So if you could only make one model, how would it look like, maybe NX20 is the one, or would you make something different?
SHL: You see, you are a photo reporter, I'm a businessman - as consumers, we are quite different to each other. We have different tastes and preferences. Based on the different consumers demand, I think we do need different models to satisfy everyone. Our strategy is to study those different groups and then to satisfy them. I don't like the idea of the same model for everyone. That's why Samsung Mobile catch up on Apple and are becoming #1.
DK: What implementations of modern technologies do you plan in the future? I mean, new type of sensor, Hybrid AF built in the sensor - are you considering those?
SHL: Yes, we are considering all kinds of possibilities, and we're trying to bring the more innovative technology, in terms of sensors, and image processors, and lenses, as well as the connectivities. We're introducing innovative technology products, but I can't tell you any details now.
DK: Are you also considering the possibility of using bigger sensors? Sony has launched quite a portable camera with a full frame sensor, is it a target for you as well?
SHL: That's just one of the many possible options. We're watching the market and based on the consumer's requirements, we should provide them with the products.
DK: But people don't always know what they want, maybe you should go ahead and provide them with something new.
SHL: The full frame sensor camera is too expensive at the moment, not for the mass market. So only introducing the full frame is not enough. We have to have right processes, other mechanisms, to utilise this kind of sensor completely. It should be a complex solution. We're thinking how we can summarise those components together to make complete products.
DK: At the start of the NX series, the lens road map was available, but now you don't publish the plans for lenses. Will you make them available?
SHL: Actually we have an internal road map, but we're constantly updating those road maps based on the market situation, and our internal readiness for the new technologies. Once we announce them - this is not a fixed plan, it should be updated constantly. We're going to expand our lens road map as soon as we're ready. Next year, we also have a plan to introduce new lenses.
DK: And all the lenses will have i-Function?
SHL: Yes, this is our own technology, we want to introduce it to all the lenses.
DK: But not all of them have i-Function at the moment.
SHL: Except for the 30 mm pancake, all lenses have i-Function.
DK: Are there any plans for external flash? Photo enthusiasts would like to have a flash with a rotating head and remote synchronisation.
SHL: We are cooperating with other companies, we have a plan that we will develop later. We're working on it.
DK: Can you tell us a few words about the new Galaxy Camera? I have already tested it, but I was told that picture quality is not final now. Can you just tell us a few words about the new concept? It's clear that products are developed combining features from different devices, will this trend continue?
SHL: This is based on our consumer insight, we have studied the consumers photo experience and behaviour: they wanted to have excellent photo quality, and just enjoy it. If they're not satisfied, they want to edit it, and then to share it instantly! This is the total photo experience from A to Z: take a shot, enjoy it, edit it and finally share it. This is the end of the photo life. So far, no one can satisfy the whole process, most of the traditional cameras are focusing on the shooting. Then the user should do the rest by themselves, it's more difficult for them. We tried to fit the whole process into one device, by embedding the Wi-Fi connectivity, and the operating systems, and 3G as well. So with one device, you can shoot and if you're not satisfied, you can edit it, and then save it in the cloud or share it with others.
DK: I already tried it yesterday, took a photo and sent it via email to my device. And it worked!
SHL: Nowadays, this is a social camera. The social network service is getting very popular, especially for the young people. Photography is becoming a way of communication. If you go to a restaurant, you can see that people are taking photos of the dishes and sending them to friends or families. This is the new photo life.
DK: So do you think the target group is people who didn't have a camera before, or even the photo camera users can switch to this?
SHL: I think both. The traditional camera is quite difficult to set. From our user experience, if you push a button, there are several options. You can also take professional photos, like Macro, with very easy steps, without setting anything manually. Most of the photographers are amateurs. If you're a professional, you can of course set everything for yourself, but for enthusiasts it's difficult to utilise the full functionality, it takes time or even lessons. But when you buy this one, you can instantly use it fully. It's a perfect device for amateurs, but for professional photographers as well.
DK: Technicaly what this device is? Is the sensor the same as in Galaxy S III or not?
SHL: Actually no. It's a 16 Mp BSI CMOS sensor, very different from the Galaxy S. The photo-inside is basically the same as in Samsung WB850F. We're targeting the people who want a really nice picture, but with ease of use. Smartphone users can use this one quite easily. The image processor is a quad-core high speed one, same as in Galaxy S III. We expect that it will enhance the users.
DK: Thank you for the interview, and good luck with the new products!
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