Samsung Electronics Co Ltd announced on Friday it has inked partnership agreements with Chinese content providers and developers, to speed up its localization in the Chinese market amid mounting competition from local rivals.
The company will join hands with content providers such as internet giant Tencent's online video service platform v.qq.com, video-streaming site iQiyi.com, online news aggregator Toutiao and the country's largest online travel agency Ctrip.
The South Korean chaebol announced its move at its first-ever developer conference in China. Wang Tong, president of Samsung's product strategy and R&D in China, said the company will increase investment in R&D related to artificial intelligence, the internet of things and pre-5G mobile telecom technology.
"There are a large number of Chinese developers and we see huge potential here. China is one of the most important markets for us around the world, so we pay much attention to closer cooperation with local content providers and developers," said Chen Liren, vice-president of Samsung's content strategy department in China.
Chen added that Samsung Pay, a mobile payments tool, has partnered with Alibaba's mobile wallet app Alipay and UnionPay's built-in QuickPass. It will include financial services and utility bills in its mobile payment tool in the future.
The strategy is Samsung's response to its sagging fortunes in the China market.
In March, it unveiled its flagship smartphones Galaxy S8 and S8 , aiming to restore consumer confidence and rejuvenate sluggish sales affected by the battery fiasco related to its Galaxy Note7 smartphone last year.
However, the company still faces fierce competition from local smartphone players such as Huawei Technologies Co, which launched its P10 and P10 Plus models with enviable features, Oppo Electronics Corp and Vivo Mobile Communication Technology Co Ltd, all of which have been steadily increasing their market share.
A report from Counterpoint Technology Market Research said Samsung sold only 3.5 million smartphones in China in the first quarter of this year, down 60 percent from 8.7 million units sold in the same period last year.
The market share of Samsung in China has shrunk to 3.3 percent from 8.6 percent last year, slipping to sixth place behind its Chinese competitors and Apple.
Roger Sheng, research director at consultancy Gartner Inc, said, "The shipment of Samsung's smartphones has witnessed a decline in China as the domestic vendors have stepped up efforts to launch a series of high-quality smartphones and expand offline stores."