Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Handsets: Samsung and Nokia Slug It Out

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Coke vs. Pepsi. Ali vs. Frazier. Godzilla vs. Mothra. Add another battle of serious rivals to the list: Samsung and Nokia are going at each other like two heavyweights in the 15th round these days in India, where they top the handheld marketplace.[more]

The Economic Times reports that the pair are using ambush marketing tactics on each other. At the premier of a new Nokia handset at a theater in Delhi, India, in October, a number of Samsung commercials were shown, the paper notes. In December, Samsung parked a cab advertising its product directly outside of Nokia’s showroom in Bangalore when Nokia was in the midst of a product launch.

“We do not acknowledge, react or engage in ambush marketing,” a Nokia spokesperson told the Times. “We believe in responsible marketing, where we will disclose more than what is required to our consumers, as we did in the case of the minor software.” 

Samsung claims that is it has not ambushed Nokia, the paper reports and that the cab was parked outside of a Samsung Smartphone Cafe. “Ambush marketing rules apply if there are territorial rules that are applicable,” said a Samsung spokesperson, the paper reports. “In the case of smartphones, all companies are aggressively trying to grow the category.”

The battle between Nokia and Samsung in India really took off when Nokia recently introduced its first Windows-based smartphone, the Lumia, there, and Samsung started to push back on the marketing front to show off its year-old Windows-based phone, the Omnia. With CES coming up in Las Vegas, Nokia’s Lumia 900 has been spotted among other pre-CES tech leaks.

Samsung, meanwhile, just announced a new low-end (sub-$100) addition to the Galaxy smartphone lineup with the new Galaxy Ace Plus (at top), due to ship to Europe and non-North American markets this month. Samsung’s brand marketers have also been caught out hiring the same young actress who appears in Apple’s recent advertising for a recent Galaxy Tab commercial in Europe.

According to comScore, Samsung rules the global handset market, owning 25.6% of it as of November. LG was second at 20.5%. Motorola placed third at 13.7%, and Apple pulled in at fourth with 11.2% of the market. However, in India, where there are about 213 million phones in use, according to the Economic Times, Nokia leads the way in smartphones with 35.3% of sales while Samsung lags behind with 26%.

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