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Samsung ‘fixed’ what it did wrong in China and is ready to take off, mobile chief says

  • Samsung mobile chief DJ Koh said the company is ready to rebound in China
  • Samsung has struggled in China against upstarts like Oppo, Vivo and Huawei
  • Koh said the company has "fixed" all the problems it had in the world's largest smartphone market
Jung Yeon-Je | AFP | Getty Images

After a tough couple of years in China, Samsung is ready for a comeback.

That's the view of DJ Koh, the South Korean electronics giant's mobile chief, who expressed optimism about the future of Samsung in the world's largest smartphone market.

"The last two or three years was a very very difficult time. But I would like to say that the Chinese market is one of the most important markets in the world. I will recover definitely and I'm doing my best in the Chinese market," Koh told CNBC in an interview.

Samsung does not officially disclose its China performance for smartphones but industry watchers do release their estimates. Counterpoint Research said that Samsung's China market share peaked at 20 percent in the second quarter of 2013. Now the company has just 3 percent market share and in the second quarter of this year, saw shipments decline over 50 percent.

Domestic Chinese players have been growing strongly. Samsung and Apple have both struggled in the face of competition from the likes of Oppo, Vivo and Huawei.

Earlier this year, Samsung underwent an organizational reshuffle. Kwon Kye-hyun was named head of the China business, and Koh said that the company also bought in new distribution channels.

Koh was cautiously optimistic on the changes made in China, but said that he is ready to see a rebound in the business.

"I am quite not 100 percent confident but up to the launch of the Galaxy S8, our premium segment market share has significantly improved," Koh said, adding that he expects the Note 8, which launched on Wednesday, to receive "love" from Chinese consumers.

"What is necessary in China, everything, I think I fixed it."

Samsung has slimmed its portfolio of phones in China to focus on the mid-range and high-end segment of the market. Some smartphone makers have opted to create a China-specific product, but this is not a strategy Samsung wants to pursue.

"There are lots of Chinese customers that are very techie customers. Even (when) I listen from normal customers (about) what they expecting and what they want to see from their Samsung … my conclusion is that the global product will work in China," Koh told CNBC.