Mobile

Samsung's chief of mobile marketing steps down at crucial time

The move comes as the smartphone maker, which has been struggling to maintain its dominance, is getting set to introduce a new flagship device.

What's next for Samsung's mobile marketing? We'll know soon enough when the company holds its Unpacked event March 1 to introduce new devices. Samsung

Technology conglomerate Samsung has appointed a new mobile-marketing chief ahead of a crucial period for the company's smartphone and tablet division.

Kim Seok-pil has stepped down as Samsung's head of mobile marketing due to health reasons, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing people who claim to have knowledge of the nature of his temporary departure. Kim will return to Samsung at a later time, though it's unclear in what capacity.

In his place, Samsung has appointed Lee Sang-chul head of mobile marketing. Previously, Lee led Samsung's Russia operations and served as the head of the company's Latin America division, according to Reuters.

The timing of Kim's departure couldn't be worse for Samsung. The company is still a prominent force in the mobile space, but it has started to slip. Samsung was the top smartphone vendor worldwide in 2014, capturing 28 percent of the market. However, the company's share stood at 32.5 percent a year earlier and is expected to tumble to 26.6 percent in 2015, according to research firm TrendForce.

Over the past several quarters, Samsung has faced increasing competition in key markets, such as China, where competitors like Lenovo, Huawei and Xiaomi continue to gain market share.

Samsung has acknowledged with each passing quarter that it's having trouble in the smartphone space. During an earnings call late last year, Samsung said that its marketing costs are skyrocketing in mobile in an effort to keep its smartphone shipments afloat. The company also said that it may have made a mistake in 2014 by offering too many smartphone models and not focusing enough on key products.

Samsung announced in November that it would cut the number of smartphone models it produces in 2015 by 30 percent. The news came after the company reported that its third-quarter income on mobile had tumbled 74 percent and its operating profits were the lowest they had been since the middle of 2011.

Samsung is set to unveil new products starting March 1 at its Unpacked event in Barcelona, Spain, where the Mobile World Congress trade show is held. At that event, Samsung is expected to announce its Galaxy S6 smartphone. (An invitation for the event hints at a curved device that may or may not be the S6.)

Whatever is announced, the onus will be on Lee to promote the devices and boost an otherwise troubled mobile division.

Samsung did not immediately respond to a request for comment.