Samsung Electronics posted record quarterly profit of $5.2 billion, driven by booming sales of its smartphones and the Galaxy Note ‘phablet’, which it hopes will show it has a flair for innovation to match rival Apple Inc.
The Note — part phone, part mini-tablet — with a throwback stylus and screen half the size of the iPad, has sold more than 5 million since launching in October, and is proving a surprise money earner for the South Korean electronics giant that has a reputation as a ‘fast follower’ rather than design leader.
“Higher-than-expected shipments of the Galaxy Note seem to have given an upside to earnings,” said Lee Ka-keun, an analyst at Hana Daetoo Securities. “Note sales will increase further in the second quarter, and handset profit will grow despite a rise in marketing costs related to the London Olympics.”
Samsung, which raced to the top of the global smartphone rankings last year with close to a fifth of the market, from just 3% in 2009, is set to go head-to-head with Apple this quarter with the expected launch of a revamped Galaxy S, its flagship smartphone, and Apple’s next iPhone.