September 22, 2014

34 Weeks of OHA: #23

Company Name: Samsung Electronics

How the OHA site classifies them: Handset Manufacturer

What the OHA site says about them: A leading innovator and provider of mobile phones and telecom systems.

What they do: Samsung is scary as hell.

Seriously.

Head on over to the Wikipedia article for Samsung Group, the conglomerate of which Samsung Electronics is the biggest part. These guys basically drive the South Korean economy (20% of the entire country’s exports in 2004, 6% of the total tax revenue the country received in 2003). In addition to electronics, they’re one of the world’s largest shipbuilders and a major global construction company. They also do chemicals, financial services, retails, entertainment, cars, etc., etc. They have revenue rivaling many small countries; in 2006 it would have been the world’s 34th largest economy. They are the second largest conglomerate in the world.

These guys are the megacorporation your mother warned you about.

At the top of all this is Lee family, who has run the show for some time now. The string of Lees includes Lee Byung-Chul (the founder), Lee Soo-Bin and Lee Kun-Hee. It’s a monarchy, really.

It’s run using this weird circular ownership thing, whereby one division owns a certain percentage of another, which in turn owns a percentage of the third, which then owns a percentage of the fourth. It is thought that this arrangement allows the Lee family to keep control of everything without having a huge portion of the ownership of any one part. The system was designed by Lee Ma-Chia-Veh-Lee.

The Samsung Electronics subsidiary is the largest electronics manufacturer in the world, having overtaken Sony a few years back. They completely dominate in the areas of DRAM, SRAM, TFT-LCD, STN-LCD, flash memory, CDMA handsets, and a bunch of other stuff. As an electronics brand, Samsung has seen a steady improvement in public perception over the past handful of years, evolving into a mark of quality equal to or exceeding Sony.

And, of course, they make handsets. They are second only to Nokia in worldwide market share.

What they bring to OHA and Android:

Today’s mobile industry is becoming more and more a customer-centric environment. Samsung’s joining with the Open Handset Alliance is fundamentally in line with this trend. We expect to lead the mobile industry by introducing more customer-oriented mobile phones through this alliance.

That’s the word from Dale Sohn, President of Samsung Telecommunications America, on the OHA quotes page. There’s not much there, other than a 1:1 participle-to-sentence ratio. I find it interesting that he’s so focused on how the industry is becoming more customer-oriented, a welcome change from the old days when it was more focused on mobile providers and South Korean God-Corporations. I mean, does it seem messed up to anyone else that it should be news when a consumer product/service is noted for becoming customer-oriented? Clearly, the power has gone to Samsung’s head.

They do create some cool handsets, though. Take a look at the Instinct (http://www.samsunginstinct.com/): while obviously heavily targeted at the iPhone market, there’s no doubt that its loaded to the gills with coolness. If they can bring the same standards to their Android offerings they may challenge HTC for my money. I’m not terribly interested in contributing to their world domination, but if they deliver the goods they can have my money.

Rumour has had it that the first Android handsets will actually come from Samsung sometime in September, rather than HTC as we’ve all been led to believe. It’s questionable whether Samsung would go this route, potentially diluting the impact of the Instinct – which they’ve thrown so much marketing money behind – during the Christmas season, but I’d certainly love to see their offering should it appear.

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