Choi Readies for Paradigm Shift
By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Electronics, the world's biggest electronics maker, looks to make a difficult transition from a hardware-oriented company to a software-driven one.
And chief executive Choi Gee-sung is assigned as the man to push the project forward.
Choi, who became the lone CEO of the company in a management reshuffle in December, which departed from the previous structure of having different CEOs for different business segments, also promises to strengthen Samsung Electronics' position in the traditionally weak areas of personal computers, home appliances and digital cameras.
Choi is focusing on injecting creative input all across Samsung Electronics business areas, as the company could no longer rely just on cutting-edge hardware and "volume-focused" manufacturing strategies when the game is becoming more and more about software, content and user experience.
Choi, whose assertiveness earned him the nickname "Choi-tler," is revealing his more flexible side to enable the software transition, vowing to give more autonomy to software-related units while hiring more engineers.
Samsung Electronics is currently the world's top vendor of memory chips, liquid crystal display (LCD) panels and flat-screen televisions and only trails Nokia as the No. 2 handset vendors.
However, there is a sense of insecurity within the company that it may struggle to adjust to a software-driven high-tech industry.
Compared to Apple, which benefits from an immense content ecosystem in pushing the iPhones, iPods and iPads, Samsung Electronics doesn’t the developer network to attempt the same formula.
In returning as Samsung Electronics chairman earlier this month after a two-year hiatus, Lee Kun-hee claimed that the company is facing a "real crisis."
"Services and products related to the mobile Internet are becoming a critical factor in the competition in electronics, and this capability is becoming more important than compared to the traditional factors of price, function and design," Choi said in a monthly message to Samsung Group employees.
Choi is credited for his role in successfully pitching premium products such as light-emitting diode (LED) backlit LCD televisions.
Prior to his role as CEO, Choi headed Samsung Electronics’ business unit for mobile phones and telecommunications equipment.