Tomas Balik became director of Samsung Electronics of the Czech and Slovak mobile divisions in December last year when he replaced Roman Sebek. He is responsible for marketing and sales of products in the division covering all mobile devices and related services in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. He graduated from the Faculty of International Relations at the University of Economics in Prague.
Tomas Balik, Head of Mobile Phone Division of Samsung CZ & SK
He came to Samsung from Datart, so electronics of all kinds are certainly no foreigners. What is the position of the Czech Samsung in Europe, what is the market leader or what future is it in folding phones? Are Czech customers much more loyal to the brand or do they pay primarily for the purchase price? This and much more has been shown in an interview given to us at Samsung's headquarters in Prague Chodov.
TL: DR: What did Tomáš Balík say?
- "Three million phones will be sold in the Czech Republic, of which million will be sold to Samsung"
- "Half of Galaxy S10's are sold more than" e-9 "and we achieve a wide range of customers' tastes, especially after last year's Galaxy S9 that did not work according to plans."
- "I think that the smart center of 2020 could connect all devices of different brands at home"
- "The safety of our phones is high, but ordinary people do not care about what I really do not understand."
- "Czech Republic has the largest share of online mobile phone sales in Europe right behind Slovakia"
- "Good news, you can try the Galaxy M20 on Samsung brands. At the same time we agreed with Mall.cz, which is already selling. "
- "Galaxy A40, A50, A70, whatever we say, is on the TOP10 market according to the latest data"
- "The theater portfolio has expanded and there are many surprises before us"
- "I have three kids myself and I see the biggest rotation of phones in my children"
- »Fold? I had it in my hand. You better be careful if there are problems, we do not want to be hurried
- "The fact that it may have happened that a fly happens, even if it did not happen. We started again and better. "
- "We believe that the introduction of Fold in the Czech Republic will move at the turn of the year 2020"
- "We want to sell the product at a price that it must have and keep it. We want to add some added value instead of discounts
- "In the Czech Republic, we expect 5G in 2020, not earlier, but in the second half of the year"
Editorial: Have you been in Samsung for half a year, how is the Czech subsidiary in Europe standing? How do you see her view of the future?
Tomáš Balík, Head of the Samsung Mobile Phones Division CZ & SK: Samsung is a large corporation, a very strong player with a good brand name. Trademarks have appeared on the Czech market in the past, I will not name them, they have come and they will not be recognized by GFK and the market in two years, but many do not even know that they were or were not here. Samsun's magic is that the Galaxy S line has been here for 10 years and is performing its function all the time.
If she was proud, the Czech Republic this year is the best country in Europe to sell "ten" and with the new "A" line, especially the Galaxy A40 and Galaxy A50, we can achieve really good results. We are selling half of the Galaxy S10 models more than e-girls, and with the full range of the Galaxy S10 we have been hitting the taste of our customers, especially after last year's Galaxy S9, which did not work according to plans. Yeah, it's not always all. We are dependable on the readable partners of our customers, which is most important because someone decides to buy something? This is the final party.
But it's not just about mobile phones, but about the entire ecosystem. Samsung can bring a complete solution to the smart house – tablet PC, go jogging with my watch, share my performance with my phone, then TV, washing machine, air conditioner, vacuum cleaner, refrigerator … and everything can be connected. When someone loves a monobrand and wants to have a comfortable and familiar environment with one brand, it's me.
How far away are you with the smart home concept?
We have tried the solution in the past, so far we have not succeeded, as we would like, so we are again embarking on connecting the equipment of other manufacturers. Samsung is and wants to be an open platform, does not want to close it in its shell. For example, you can add smart lights to the new system. I use them at home, I will not specify a trademark, but I have everything connected with Samsung.
At work, sometimes I receive a notice brought to me by a dishwasher, which is not exactly twice useful, and then the phone informs me that the dishwasher ran out of the dishwasher, which is useful to me right now. We are preparing the Smart Hub, which already works in part, we have positive feedback from presentations in Prague. You can now manage most of our products by phone or tablet, and we will continue with this.
Is the smart home system already available in the Czech Republic or is it still in preparation?
The system in its full form is not yet available in the Czech Republic; It needs the aforementioned smart center. And it's not yet localized for the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and I personally regret. But what's important is who already has Samsung home products, so they are already connected. Now I do not want to anticipate, but I think that in 2020 we could work with us Smart Hub, which would connect all devices of different brands at home. It all depends on localization.
So, in Smart Hub, there is no support for the Czech Republic?
I would understand it from a broader perspective. Every cell phone that comes to the Czech distribution, as well as services, must go through the so-called localization. This means that it will technically verify that all operators, networks, application functionality and other issues will be provided. Before the product starts, a complex technological process is required. When you buy a phone in England or France, everything with us may not be 100% functional.
So the phone was not localized for the Czech Republic, and when people come to the shop and say they do not hear the opposite party, there is a network problem, we have sold the wrong phone … often because the phone was not localized, and someone got it on Czech from your vacation. Of course, it depends on the customer where he will buy the phone. This also applies to the Czech Republic.
And we had a very wide topic …
Yes, this is true, but only because the party does not see the background and then is angry at us, although we can not believe that the phone was not localized, that the Czech Republic would operate 100 percent and to bring in what we reported. Localization is a technical process that takes different for each product. It is intended for people who have been surrendered to him for a long time. Samsung's great advantage is that it can adapt phones, i.e. Individually tailored to customer requirements.
When an operator or trader comes in, we will customize the Knox solution. Whatever you remember, we can get it on your phone. Great advantage, I call it "my safe", is great security for every user, but also for B2B partners. The safety of our phones is of a high standard used by the US military … but ordinary people do not care about this, which I do not really understand about sensitive information about phones. I believe that the interest in security will increase ever more. A few times someone chooses someone's account or transfers private photos and starts distributing them. In security, however, Samsung is the world's furthest.
And as you see a Czech party. So, it is killing one brand, when security, as you say, is not a priority?
I am not saying that this is not a priority, but people are unaware of this. In my opinion, the Czechs are one of the most educated parties in Europe, if not in the world, because of the influence of the Internet. Customers can get huge amounts of information online. The Czech Republic, which is behind Slovakia, has the largest share of mobile phone sales in Europe.
Since everything is online, the customer is very well informed, so he chooses a combination. See what someone tells him, what he finds, everything against price. We have to be honest and believe that what we bring is worth the money you want. Because the customer can check this very quickly. The price is still an important factor, but it is no longer the best.
We recently launched a 24-hour power supply, most of the errors can be solved in one hour. Or we'll go home on the phone with my galaxy and lend you a replacement phone. These are services that have already begun to enter the customer's decision-making process. We saw him two years ago in Western Europe and so is with us. When buying, the price, the price / performance ratio, and what I get when buying added value, i.e. Service.
And what is the role of the mark itself?
A more expensive and premium phone is a more important brand and a related prestige. A big difference is, for example, when a buyer buys a flag of 25 thousand or has five thousand in his wallet for the basic model. Premium = the meaning of the brand, and the perception of the brand is people. The first question in the decision-making process must be what the user actually needs the phone for.
Can you reveal what is hidden behind the Galaxy A40 List.cz Edition? How did collaboration come up with the List and what is the added value of the phone?
The list is a successful company, it still has an irreplaceable position on the market, mainly due to its wide scope. This is a special local brand and many people are using List Services on their computers. So we thought that there is one strong brand (Samsung), another strong brand (List) and the third strong brand (Alza), so let's say that you can have what you see on your computer at your cellphone.
Yes, you can say that all apps on your phone can be downloaded separately on Google Play, but the List wanted to show it here and have something to offer on mobile devices. Maybe Mapy.cz is ranked as one of the best applications, but the list was not able to get into the subconscious mind, although it's much longer than Google Maps. The phone is pre-installed and the user does not need to download anything, just clicks and is already moving …
I go to the store, why choose Galaxy A40 from the list? What is the added value?
As an active user of the list? I have something on my computer on the phone and I do not need to install anything else, otherwise it's the same phone that may have saved me a little work. Target group? Maybe my mom. Pre-installed applications are so convenient, but we believe that combining strong brands in the area of the manufacturer, application vendor and vendor simply works. I think it's a great project.
The target group of the phone was "hit", the phone found. The fact that someone writes inappropriate comments by phone is already taxed on the World Wide Web. On the other hand, each choice can be made between Basic and List.cz editions. In cooperation with the List, which wanted to be more visible on mobile devices, we tried the first major adjustment, both the local swipe. This is something extra, the fight for the price can be done by someone, we are going in the other direction. Like Bixby's assistant. Its availability in the Czech Republic is far away, so we put on something that the Czechs know and use, many of them read the news on List.cz.
You're only selling Galaxy M20 online and people are talking to us that they can not try the phone. Are you planning to change something?
Good news, you can try Galaxy M20 on Samsung brandstores. At the same time we agreed with Mall.cz, which is already selling. It's no longer just on the Samsung.cz website. The phone is not designed for mass sales in all shops, this smartphone was introduced in the Czech Republic as a web model against competition, which is obviously obvious …
We are satisfied with the sale, the M20 has found the target audience, even though it does not know much about the phone. Advertising by phone was not important yet, although it's a good model at a good price. However, with the A series we feel good, so "emko" is just a glaze on the cake for those who want a large battery and a screen without a sphere. However, the A series in "ten" is right.
Can you be more precise?
But immediately after sale, they are sold after sale. A40, A50, A70, whatever we have already mentioned, is in TOP10 in the market according to the latest figures and the A20tka is very fast approaching in terms of sold pieces. The Galaxy S10 is again the number one in sales. Three million phones are sold in the Czech Republic, of which one million are sold to Samsung, of which 15 to 20% are for "esk" phones. Since its introduction in the Czech Republic, hundreds of thousands of "A" have been sold in the Czech Republic, which is down by hundreds of thousands. The rest is sales and other models.
We owe this to the simplification of the portfolio. Do you remember the previous characters? Plus, Neo, Duos …. A20e, A40, A50, A70, A80, everything is clear. And, for example, the Galaxy A50, the phone is outdated as last year's Galaxy S9 and is ideal for this price tag. He immediately went to TOP10.
The splitting of the middle class and Galaxy S10 was worth it?
Of course, the portfolio has become more transparent. In the past year, we did not have counterparties at different price levels or there was a little creaking, this year we have them. Last year, the price-to-customer ratio was so poor. Next year, we want to keep the portfolio so clear that the buyer knows this. Last year, customers were looking for the difference between J4 +, J4 or J6, and what about the plus version at the end? It's finally right now.
We first mentioned sales numbers in the Czech Republic and we do not hear much about it, even from you. In most cases, only a percentage during the year …
You can interpret each number in different ways when I tell you the sales figures, so I say. Some ratings of agencies are not taken into account, for example, Gartner, which is also the basis for some of your articles. This is a completely different metric based on distribution, so it's not so accurate. We measure how much we actually sell to final customers using GFK. Of course we can not reveal exact numbers.
Indeed, the market behaves quite differently than Gartner's countries. And if someone relies on the data and states that it has increased by XY%, then we just smile. Reality is somewhere else. We are successful and satisfied with our position in transport, where we can fulfill what we are supposed to accomplish. In the end, the buyer decides whether we have our work here at the Czech headquarters or not because he bought our phone.
And what's the most from the Samsung Electronics portfolio in the Czech Republic?
The phones are clearly in the first place, we see a great increase in hours. This trend is in Europe and around the world. Today no one can imagine that he would live without a mobile phone, the majority of the mobile company, had the largest share and the largest turnover. The clock grows even in three-digit values!
The Czechs are toys, they really enjoy. Celebrities also observe the number of steps or warmth. The only weakness is that they have to charge what I did not do last night (laughter, note red). I also use it for a dress, it's a designer device. Samsung is for the second time the only mobile phone manufacturer at the luxury watch makers' fair. We have luxurious large models for clothing, business, middle and small string … Watch portfolio has expanded and we have many surprises.
In addition to the revolving trend, we also have a smaller Galaxy Watch Active, which is particularly popular with women. So we have two basic directions and simpler bracelets, Galaxy Fit. If we move away from the mobile compartment, TVs and monitors come to second place, followed by white technology, cooling, and, last but not least, professional displays. Everything is an integral part of the company. Often it happens that smartphone users have other brands of Samsung.
Global sales are decreasing and the market in the Czech Republic is constantly rising. Do you have any idea what can be found between the lines?
The market is not saturated, people still want to try something new and always play and discover something new. In Germany, a strong operator needs a market with two-year contracts, so people take their phones every two years. In the Czech Republic, operators have gradually abolished subsidies. While the market overseas as a sinus wave with a maximum of two years is not with us. In addition, operators and business people get good deals.
But the replacement of mobile phones has been widespread, which is a well-known fact. Sometimes it was faster, it's slower today. I do not know if Germans are buying children in big mobile phones. I have three children myself and see the biggest rotation of the phone with my children. There it falls, it breaks, there it is forgotten, again a new function is missing … and when you meet children from seven years old, they have hands in their hands. My daughter recently got A7 and already looks at A50.
But a few years ago it was said that the market has long been saturated …
… things were said a few years ago. We may have been talking about the destruction of stone shops and today they grow like mushrooms after the rain.
What's more important to you. Stone shop or online?
You can not say that. Before that he was only divided into blogs and dealers with brick and mortar, and today there has been a significant shift from both sides. Clean warehouses invest in e-commerce, where I click, I pick them up there. I look at the store again, buy at home, I bring the phone. Web professionals began to open points and branches of distribution and suddenly found that it was not possible on the web. People want to come somewhere, have a living person, at least complain about complaints, call someone who broke up. And this is irreplaceable.
Meanwhile, one and the other know that they can not exist without another, but the whole thing moves in the direction of a higher speed. We understand that time is the most expensive. Effect "Order online and take it somewhere in the workplace", logistics, speed and convenience, today prevails. I believe in the combination of everything. I do not only believe in the trade in stones or on the web.
What about the tablet segment?
When mobile phone screens expanded, the entire tablet market began to decline and actually formed two product groups. Cheap pills from three to five thousand used by children. There are fairy tales in the car, on a plane, in games … and then there are better pills that can be used by people who do not watch television anymore. I see myself in the evening, I take the pill into the bed in the evening and watch the flowing things. You need a good screen and good sound.
When people want to work with a plate, they buy more expensive. In this segment, we or Apple are predominant. I think the tablets have improved lately, like our Galaxy Tab S5e. It's lightweight, it has a good sound, it's fun to play, watch, browse, watch while Tab S4 was more against S Pen, where we took the tablet like something else.
And soon his successor. a tablet that will have a touch pen and will be a bomb. Just the sound of television. It was working hard to make it a great multimedia experience. I heard him play, you feel like you're sitting on TV.
We can say that the middle class of tablets completely disappeared. Smaller or higher portfolios?
I think that the market has developed in a lower and higher segment. The Center has not completely disappeared, but we do not focus on it. Perhaps such a premium Galaxy Tab S5e will never be worth three thousand. Then we have small pills there. "Trackbacks", with wider frames, easier to hold, and then there is a huge use of tablets in the B2B segment. The solution for companies that sign contracts, documents, scanning and we are very strong there. Still with security and the Knox platform.
What about the future? Will it be foldable?
This is just one of the other ways to find a buyer. And finally? So, can the chip be built into your hand? Who knows? The future is Fold. I had it in my hand. The distribution has already happened in some way, then it stopped … Better be careful if there are problems, we do not want to hurry. It's a device and an innovation that should not ruin its name. We thought it would be fine, the parties convinced us that there was not a solution that you would expect, so the model was withdrawn.
At our internal conference, I used Fold for three days and I did not want to return it. It's nice big, comfortable, especially working with three windows, I'm impressed by Fold. Such an innovative device has its flies, even if that does not happen. The segment is simply evolving and tested and will not work and people will say "There are no friends, we expect something completely different!", so that. As Samsung would rather take it, they admit "Okay, it did not work", we will do it again and again.
He will definitely find his client. And when you have it in your hand, you will enjoy. Yes, the price will be higher, but it's logical. Samsun's great advantage is that investing in these innovations, inventing and innovating, is looking for the right path. The worst is and the public does not perceive much when somebody comes in, copies technology and is aggressive in price, because in years of development he did not have to invest large amounts of money. He just took it and copied it.
This is the world, it's normal, I do not complain, but when someone rescues the prices, I tell them – the price is not just what you currently have in the hand for which the plant bought parts, it was compiled and sold. The price also includes multiannual development. The jigsaws do not push classic phones, I do not think so, but it's a question of how far flexible phones can get far. On the wrist?
Will Galaxy be placed in the Czech Republic?
It will be originally spoken about the autumn or the second half of 2019, but thanks to what happened, we think it will move at the turn of the year 2020. And again, localization is coming, Galaxy Fold has to prepare software, business and communications to enter market.
How do you rate the Huawei example? Can it affect other producers on the market?
I read newspapers, just like you, and just like customers. I am sorry about the competition, because it is supposed to be healthy because it promotes development. The customer can read newspapers, is smart and well read, especially in the Czech Republic, and is on it to buy. Let them buy a brand phone, which honestly convinces them that they have everything that a customer needs. And I would leave it to customers.
If the product is on the market, is the price fixed locally or globally? What is your view of the so-called cashbacks?
The price is given centrally, otherwise it would cause market problems and is fixed. In the past, rebates and refunds were the rule, and it's clear that we do not live in a vacuum. We will come to a price that we think is right, and if you look at A40 and A50, you will not find any refunds, including the Galaxy S10. Earlier we got to a higher price and then we took the local price at the local level, Samsung changed its strategy this year. This year we had no returns.
We want to sell the product at a price that it must have and keep it. Instead of a discount, we want to add some added value, now they are AKG headphones, while the pre-orders of the S10 series were the Galaxy Buds headphones. Everyone can buy and lower the price and be called a successful marketer. Devaluation of the brand stems from the fact that the trader can only sell it at a discount.
However, if competition is lowered and the price is reduced by five, six, seven thousand, we have to respond in some way, otherwise we will lose competitiveness. We do not like it. But the difference in six, seven, eight thousand on a phone that is well equipped compared to our product is difficult to justify. We do not live in a vacuum and we have to behave in the market.
Instead of cashbacks, we try to go more than bonuses, for example when packing AKG headsets, YouTube Premium subscriptions, etc. Another option that we constantly use is the Trade-In program, i.e. Buy old devices with a bonus when buying a new Samsung mobile phone.
And what happens to the purchased phones?
The Partner further trades or redeems the purchased phones. The market is big and our partner knows where and how to return the purchased models. If someone brings an "e-nine", it's still a great phone and if it works, why not sell it?
Do you have any plans in the 5G segment?
In the Czech Republic, we expect the first launch of the 5G network in 2020, not earlier, but in the second half of the year. This is a huge investment, no one can imagine what it is, pour money into 5G. Outside is simple, just replace the end segment of the antenna and it's the worst one. And when I hear that the auction was a 5G network … it was the second auction of frequencies. And the winner, when building the network, is straight from 5G, while others only replace components and also work on 5G.
We wanted the Galaxy S10 5G to be at least in the hands of our operators, because operators are the key element of 5G. Solving technical problems, localization, customization and similar problems. In England, it is launched in 5G, it is in Germany, so Samsung is focused elsewhere.
I would personally like to sell 5G phones in the Czech Republic for one reason. We sell 8K television and 8K is not here yet. When we started selling 4K TV, there were no 4K content. So we said that we have it, we know it will come, and we will calculate the picture before it arrives. I wanted to sell 5G phones in the Czech Republic to show that we are ready for a new era. Now he is not with us yet, but he will come soon, but we want to bring him here. It would be a nice marketing, and if the Chinese are ahead of us, nothing is done.
The conclusion is that where 5G networks will not work, Samsung 5G phones will not be available. When the first operator in the Czech Republic launches 5G, Samsung will be left behind to offer its phones right away. The biggest advantages will be productivity, speed and comfort, real-time communication, automation of production and, of course, fast data transfer anywhere.