The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge go on sale in Japan on April 23, but customers won’t find Samsung’s logo on the devices as usual, instead they will be co-marketed with carrier partners as the ‘Docomo Galaxy’ and ‘au Galaxy’.
This rebrand goes beyond the company’s products. Samsung has also renamed its Facebook Page in Japan to ‘Galaxy Mobile Japan’ — against removing reference to ‘Samsung’ — while the marketing visuals for its new phones are also bereft of its name.
TechCrunch contacted Samsung for comment on this change, but we have yet to receive a reply. A company spokesperson did tell The Herald that: “we think the Galaxy brand has been well established in Japan.”
That’s not exactly a direct answer. Samsung’s move may seem peculiar from the outside, but it comes in response to its ongoing struggle to establish its brand in Japan — where it sells fewer phones than Fujitsu and Sharp, among others — and against a backdrop of tension between Japan and its native Korea.
According to the figures from Counterpoint Research, Samsung sat in fifth place in Japan with less than five percent market share during November 2014. That’s in contrast to arch rival Apple, which captured half of all smartphone sales in the country during October and November 2014.
Rumors spiraling earlier this year suggested that the company would exit Japan after failing to make a meaningful impact in the country. Instead, it is giving its phones a shot without any direct links to the mothership — though it remains to be seen how successful that will be given the local penchant for Japanese brands and Apple’s iPhones.