Samsung has evolved into one of the two key players in the global consumer electronics industry, challenging even arch-rival Apple as the leading pace-setter. In many ways, it has so far been to the early 21st Century what Sony was in the late 20th, but has far surpassed the Japanese company's achievements. More than any other Korean business, Samsung fully embraced Western corporate philosophy and threw itself aggressively into North American and European markets, causing more established rivals - not least Sony - to stumble dramatically. However the environment remains challenging. South Korea continues to experience economic and political problems, a situation exacerbated in Samsung's case by the fact that many Koreans actively resent the group's commercial dominance at home even while they are proud of its international profile. The group also faces stiff competition in key areas from yet another rising tide of Asian rivals, this time from China. The flagship of the group is Samsung Electronics. It is notionally an independent company, although other Samsung companies and the founding family between them control a combined stake of at least 15%. Samsung Electronics operates across three divisions of consumer electronics (ranging from TVs to refrigerators and washing machines), IT & mobile communications (primarily mobile phones, but also notebook PCs), and what it calls device solutions, comprising memory chips, LCD screens & other display panels and semiconductors. In its most important segment of smartphones, it has been the global leader since late 2011. Market share in 2018 was around 20%. (See latest figures here). In 2017, it overtook Intel to become global #1 in semiconductors. It has been the global leader in TVs since 2006. Revenues from Samsung Electronics reached a record high in 2018 of around $221bn, with net income of approx $40.3bn. Yet the Samsung umbrella also covers a huge range of other businesses in sectors as diverse as financial services, fashion, tourism, pharmaceuticals, theme parks and automobiles (through a minority stake in Renault Samsung Motors). Samsung Electronics is just the best known of more than 80 separate but affiliated companies in Korea alone, 17 of them publicly listed in their own right. Combined revenues are well over $300bn. The empire is overseen by the founder's grandson Lee Jae-Yong, reinstated as vice chairman in 2018 following a jail term for corruption. His father Lee Kun-hee retains the title of group chairman but has been bed-ridden for several years following a heart attack. Samsung Electronics is now run by three co-CEOs, Kim Ki-nam (components), Kim Hyun-suk (consumer electronics) and Koh Dong-jin (mobiles). Lee Sang-hun is group chairman.
Capsule checked 24th January 2019
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Adbrands Daily Update 13th Sep 2019: "Alpaca". Some lovely gags in this new campaign for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 from BBH New York, a new addition to the Korean tech giant's roster. Presumably Publicis Groupe's Power of One methodology has helped BBH hitch a lift on the back of sister agency (and Samsung lead) Leo Burnett. Like an earlier Burnett ad for Samsung featuring an ostrich, this new spot generates maximum appeal from the use of another unusual animal, the alpaca. And frankly, who can resist any ad that has alpacas in it? We've seen plenty of ads before that light-heartedly illustrate the explosive spread of new global viral trends, but this one is played purely for laughs. That encounter between two office workers both sporting an alpaca hairdo is classic.
Adbrands Social Media 5th Aug 2019: "The Frame". Fancy a bit of world class museum art on your wall? Samsung's latest TV, branded as "The Frame" offers you the option of a static screen saver when it's off, with a selection of masterpieces as standard. Much better than staring at a big black rectangle. Adam&Eve DDB's accompanying ad for Europe is an entertaining bit of fun, imagining where all those great images might have come from.
Adbrands Daily Update 1st May 2019: New research from market watcher IDC puts Huawei within reach of overtaking Samsung as the global leader in smartphones before the end of this year. In 1Q 2019, Huawei's volumes jumped by over 50% year-on-year to 59.1m devices, putting it within striking distance of Samsung, whose volumes slipped 8% to just under 72m. The biggest loser among the global leaders was Apple, whose volumes plunged by more than 30% to 36.4m units.
Adbrands Daily Update 23rd Apr 2019: Samsung has delayed the release of its much-hyped Galaxy Fold smartphones, which had been due to launch in the US this week with a $2,000 price tag. Several high-profile US reviewers, most notably the Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern, suffered malfunctions soon after receiving their devices. Most issues were connected with the highly sensitive folding screen. Reviewers who attempted to remove what appeared to be the standard protective film covering the screen when it arrived (as on all other smartphones) ended up breaking the device. "While many reviewers shared with us the vast potential they see," said Samsung in a statement, "some also showed us how the device needs further improvements that could ensure the best possible user experience. We will take measures to strengthen the display protection. We will also enhance the guidance on care and use of the display including the protective layer." A revised launch date will be set in due course. In the mean time, the incident has reawakened memories of Samsung's disastrous Note 7 launch. The device had to be withdrawn in 2016 as a result of exploding batteries at a cost in excess of $5bn.
Adbrands Daily Update 14th Mar 2019: Samsung announced the departure of US chief marketing officer Marc Mathieu after four years. The former Unilever and Coke marketer has already left Samsung, but his destination is as yet undisclosed. "I am moving on to the next chapter in my career," he later confirmed. "Samsung has truly unlocked the power of technology for me and taught me how it can enhance peoples' daily lives and the greater good of humanity."
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