updated 07:39 pm EDT, Tue June 19, 2012
Proprietary software, user experience, design main areas of focus
In his inaugural speech, new Samsung CEO Kwon Oh-hyun recommitted the electronics giant to an increased focus on improving its software components. The new CEO pointed to software, user experience, design, and solutions as the path forward for Samsung, which aims to further distinguish itself from other electronics makers and solidify its standing near the top of the tech sector. Oh-hyun did not provide exact details on Samsung's plans to strengthen its offerings, but it is expected that the company will leverage existing technologies to increase integration among its devices.
Samsung's position as the world's largest maker of flat-screen televisions, memory chips, displays, and smartphones puts the company in a rare position to provide a unified experience across a wider range of devices than much of its competition. To that end, the company was recently rumored to have been working on its own social network that would span Samsung devices, as well as some made by other manufacturers.
The company shortly thereafter denied any such plans, stressing instead that it planned to improve its current offerings in order to provide a smoother user experience. It is likely that a focus on improving this aspect of Samsung's software -- namely Samsung's socially-oriented, cloud-based sharing app, Family Story -- will form a significant portion of the company's future software focus.
Samsung has been riding high in the mobile sector, due in large part to the success of Android-powered smartphones. Pre-orders for its Galaxy S III smartphone have reportedly topped nine million, and demand is so high that launches have been delayed in some countries due to supply limitations. The Galaxy Note has seen similar successes in Korea and abroad.
Despite these successes, Samsung's position remains vulnerable. While the company produces a range of high-selling smartphones, its efforts in the tablet sector have been less successful. Further, in neither sector does Samsung maintain much control over the operating system that powers its best-selling devices. Samsung's hit handsets tend to run Google's Android operating system, which puts Samsung in an awkward partnership with a competitive edge due to Google's recent acquisition of Motorola Mobility. The company's custom TouchWiz interface, seen on the Galaxy Tab, marks one effort at putting a Samsung-specific stamp on Android; but the mobile OS remains largely guided by Google.
Samsung's continued support of the alternative mobile operating system Tizen may be one aspect of Oh-hyun's software vision. Tizen, developed in collaboration with Intel, is an OS highly dependent on HTML5. Recent developments have rendered the OS capable of running Android apps, which means that Samsung and other manufacturers could produce Tizen-based products should relations with Google turn sour.
Samsung's complex relationships aren't limited to Google, though. The company also provides chips and displays to Apple, which produces Samsung's chief competitor devices, the iPhone and iPad.
Despite their ongoing supply relationship, Apple and Samsung have been locked in continuing legal battles, wherein Apple has tried and failed to block the release of certain Samsung models, alleging that those devices infringe on Apple patents. Samsung, meanwhile, has countersued Apple, alleging that the iPhone maker has been using Samsung wireless technologies without paying royalties.