Since its official release on 26 April, Samsung's new smartphone, Galaxy S4, has been enjoying record-breaking sales in Russia. According to Mobile Research Group, in the first three days, over 15,000 handsets have been sold. "This is a record for a device in this price range. iPhone 5 did considerably worse in the first days of its launch. Yet, we shall wait till the end of the first week to come to any conclusions," a senior analyst at Mobile Research Group, Eldar Murtazin, said. In Russia, Galaxy S4 prices range from 30,000 roubles (for a 16GB model) to 37,000 roubles (for a 64GB model).

 

 

Samsung's previous model, Galaxy S3, became the first South Korean smartphone to outperform iPhone in worldwide sales. In the first week since Galaxy S4 became available to pre-order, advance orders for it were four times that for its predecessor, Samsung has announced. Last year, there were 9 million pre-orders for the Galaxy S3 worldwide.

Galaxy S4's record-breaking sales in Russia come as a result of some inspired preparatory work Samsung has done with its partners, mobile phone operators and retailers that have direct access to consumers. For instance, Samsung made a deal with a leading operator, MTS, whereby buyers of the new smartphone will not have to pay for their calls for a year. This is not a typical offer in Russia, where phones are rarely sold with a contract. Yet, MTS does not stand to lose anything, the company's spokesperson Irina Agarkova is convinced: owners of modern smartphones spend four times as much on their mobile phone bills than owners of ordinary phones and it pays off to win them over and retain them.

Russia is a key market for mobile phone manufacturers, Samsung representatives in the country say. "The number of handsets sold here in three days is the same that it would take a week to sell in the USA," an informed source has said, explaining why the new Galaxy smartphone was released in Russia first. The Russian smartphone market is growing all the time. According to a major mobile phone retailer, Euroset, in the first quarter of 2013, smartphones made up 40.6 percent of the whole of the Russian phone market in terms of the number of handsets sold, and 78.2 percent in terms of sales. Compared with the same period in 2012, the number of handsets sold rose by 34.1 percent.

Last year the list of the world's leading smartphone manufacturers expanded to include China's Huawei and ZTE: their Android smartphones, together with Сoolpad and Lenovo models, managed to attract new users in the relevant target group, says research manager with IDC Ramon Llamas. In the first quarter of 2013, they joined the top five smartphone vendors, jointly accounting for 8.8 percent of the market (the top seller, Samsung, makes up 32.7 percent and Apple, 17.3 percent of the market). Chinese manufacturers are interested in the Russian market too, but it would be wrong to compare their success with that of Samsung. "Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE have just emerged, so it would be premature to speak of a considerable market share or large sales figures. Whereas, for instance, the well-known Taiwanese company HTC, which belongs in the same segment of the market as Samsung, during the release of its latest model sold only 1,500–2,000 handsets," Eldar Murtazin pointed out.

All rights reserved to RBTH Asia Pacific and Rossiyskaya Gazeta. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written permission of RBTH Asia Pacific. Contact mail: editor@rbth.asia