Are you curious to hear what Samsung is doing in 2018? According to an article in The Verge, the company will focus on “foldable OLED displays and Bixby” to “help drive the company’s growth this year.”
A foldable display – think smartphone vibes with flip phone portability – is intended to help distinguish future Samsung devices from those of competitors. This tech has been buzzed about for years, and while multiple patents have been filed, nothing of real significance has been released. Samsung will also be working on some new business related AI using its Bixby voice assistant technology.
The Korean tech-giant also released its Q4 earning for 2017, which saw record profits “driven by its chip-making business and the sales of its lucrative OLED displays for smartphones, many of which can be found in the iPhone X,” according to The Verge. Mobile earnings were actually down, in contrast, due to a decline in smartphone shipment. Overall, Q4 saw Samsung rake in $14.24 billion USD.
Future generations of Samsung smartphones will be FM radio compatible to users across the United States and Canada. This is a feature that iPhone users do not have access to.
According to an article in Business Insider, Samsung has been working in collaboration with TagStation to enable FM radio on Galaxy smartphones through the NextRadio app. This will allow Samsung users to access FM radio “without pulling excess data or battery power from their smartphones.”
You may be wondering if people would even want to use FM Radio on their phones, considering the popularity of apps like Spotify and similar services. But in a way, FM Radio fits in a retro aesthetic that some smartphone users appreciate in their tech; the same way that vinyl is making a comeback. On top of that, TagStation president Paul Brenner said in press release that “having access to FM radio frequencies could benefit people in emergency situations…” and “…access to FM radio aided those affected by recent natural disasters in Puerto Rico, Houston and the Florida coast.” In some countries, FM radio access on smartphones is a key safety feature.
The next Samsung device to make this available will likely be the Galaxy S9, which the company promised to announce in late February.
Samsung has dealt with a wave of scandals in the past year, including the embarrassing Note 7 recall and corruption allegations involving its de facto CEO. According to CNET, Samsung has made a move to recover by promoting three presidents – Kim Ki-nam, Kim Hyun-suk and Koh Dong-jin – to the roles of co-CEOs. These three figureheads will lead the company’s device solutions, consumer electronics and IT, and mobile division respectively.
“The next generation of leaders are well suited to accelerate the pace of innovation and address the demands of the connected world,” Kwon Oh-hyun, Samsung’s retiring vice chairman, said in a statement. “They have proven track records with extensive experience and outstanding expertise in their fields.”
New co-CEO Koh Dong-jin already has made a name for himself in the Samsung sphere. He has been running day-to-day operations for the mobile division for two years, and oversaw the release of both the successful Galaxy S7 and the disastrous Note 7.
As CNET reports, the other two new CEOs are equally as qualified. “Kim Hyun-suk, the new head of the consumer electronics business, has overseen Samsung’s display business since December 2011,” explains an article on the announcement. “He started at the company in 1992 and has led the development of Samsung’s flagship TV lineups for the past decade, including its LED TV, Smart TV, UHD TV, Curved TV and QLED TV series.”
As for Kim Ki-nam, head of device solutions, the new co-CEO has been a part of Samsung since 1981, and “has played a key role in developing new memory technologies for DRAM and NAND flash products,” according to CNET.
Despite its recent public perception and representation in the media, Samsung isn’t hurting. Hours before making the announcement of their management change on October 30, the company announced its biggest operating profit ever, due to a strong demand for its memory chips – among other device components. However, it still faces tough competition from Apple and Huawei in the mobile device market.
According to The Financial Post, Samsung Pay is expanding to more Canadian financial institutions soon. The payment platform came to Canada in late 2016, and is currently only compatible with CIBC Visa cards. Allegedly, the service will soon include Interac, meaning it will be accessible through a number of Canadian banks as early as this month.
Interac compatibility made Apple Pay a success in Canada, as many banks use it for both credit and debit card transactions. Likewise, Google’s Android Pay has recently come to Canada and works with most banks, including BMO, CIBC, Banque Nationale, Scotiabank, Desjardins, President’s Choice Financial, ATB Financial and Canadian Tire Financial Services.
Samsung is being tight-lipped about the rumor so far, providing the following statement to The Financial Post.
“Thank you for your interest in Samsung Canada. Samsung Pay is available in Canada for select CIBC customers. We look forward to sharing more details about expansion soon.”
Despite their anticipated release and positive critical reception, the new Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus phones have not garnered the hoped-for success in the U.S smartphone market. In fact, according to BGR, Android makers in general are struggling to compete with Apple in the United States.
Data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech says that Android’s market share in the U.S fell 5.9 percent from 67.6 to 61.7 percent in the three month period that ended in April of 2017. At the same time, iOS sales grew 5.8 percent across the U.S, giving Apple 36.5 percent of market share.
“Android partner brands Samsung, LG, and Moto experienced year-on-year declines in the US,” reports Kantar’s Lauren Guenveur. “The Samsung Galaxy S8, released in the last two weeks of the April period did not show a significant impact on Samsung’s sales in the period ending in April, nor did LG’s G6. Neither of those made the list of Top 10 best-selling phones.”
Guenveur also revealed that in the three months that ended in May of 2017, the S8 and S8 Plus only amassed a combined share of 8.1 percent of sales in the United States. Again, during the same period, the S7 and S7 Edge achieved 8.8 percent of sales and the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus took 20.1 percent.
It’s not all bad news for Android and Samsung, however. The opposite results are being seen in China, where over the past year Android sale shares have increased from 79.1 percent to 83.4 percent, while iOS sales have dipped twenty percent to 16.2 percent of the market.
On February 16th, 2017, the heir to the Samsung Group, Lee Jae-yong, was arrested in connection with a bribery investigation that resulted in the impeachment of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye. According to The Verge, the company is taking measures to enhance transparency and oversight regarding donations made to third parties.
In a recent press release, Samsung Electronics said that any donations or corporate social responsibility funding that totals at least 1 billion won – or $882,050 – will now be subject to approval from its board of directors. As well, Samsung has promised that such donations will now be publicly disclosed.
Lee, the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, was accused of paying an equivalent of $38 million to organizations backed by a confidant of President Park in exchange for government favours. Samsung has denied making payments or illegally seeking such favours.
It was just not Samsung’s year. First, the Galaxy Note 7s began exploding. Then, the replacements did as well. Now, Samsung’s Galaxy S7 edge has its own unique issue that is plaguing users.
According to TechTimes, Galaxy S7 edge users have been reporting a defect in the phone that causes a pink or purple line to appear across the screen. Samsung has now come forward to acknowledge the issue.
Samsung claims the display issue occurs only if a handset has been dropped, but it’s possible for the line to appear on a phone that does not have a broken display. The line is caused by damage to the phones internal circuitry.
However, multiple Galaxy S7 edge users have claimed they did not drop their phone and think it could be a software issue. Some even questioned whether or not the issue was covered under warranty.
Samsung has promised repairs under warranty, but only if the devices have no visible damage. If there is physical damage to the phone, the user will be footing the bill.
Samsung has finally come out with an official, public explanation for the disastrous series of exploding Note 7s that injured consumers and damaged their property last year. According to CNET, during a press conference on January 22nd, Samsung admitted that two separate battery defects caused both the original batch of Galaxy Note 7 smartphones and their replacements to overheat and occasionally set ablaze.
Justin Denison, head of product strategy and marketing for Samsung US, explained the issue to the press. The first battery apparently suffered from a design flaw that left it with a small external casing, unable to hold the components inside of it properly, which caused the battery to short-circuit and ignite. The second battery, which came from a different supplier, suffered a manufacturing defect amidst the rush to produce and replace the first. Unfortunately, this defect caused the same result.
Even though we now know the reason behind the fiery failure that was the Note 7, Samsung still has to rebuild its reputation and prove to us that it’s safe to buy its future smartphones. Samsung announced to the press that in order to rejuvenate its credibility, it will be launching the Galaxy S8 and another Note smartphone later this year.
According to Reuters, South Korean tech-giant Samsung Electronics has made a milestone step into the auto industry by purchasing Harman International Industries for eight billion dollars. This also marks the company’s largest ever overseas acquisition.
Harman International Industries is based out of Stamford, Connecticut and makes connected car and audio systems to meet the demand of an increasingly mobile and software-friendly focused industry. Some of these products include infotainment systems, telematics, connected safety and security services. You can find them today in 30 million vehicles made by companies like BMW, Toyota, and Volkswagen. This opens a new, exciting source of growth and revenue for Samsung, which was recently burned by the exploding Note 7 debacle.
“We have been studying the automotive market for some time. We conclude that organic growth will not get us where we want to go fast enough,” said Samsung’s President and Chief Strategy Officer, Young Sohn, on a conference call.
He also made it clear that Samsung “will not get into the business of manufacturing cars.”
Here in North America, Huawei isn’t known for its smartphones the way manufacturers like Samsung or Apple are. It is more well known globally for being a builder of telecommunications networks. Surprisingly, according to Reuters, the Chinese-based company says it wants to become the second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world within two years, surpassing the likes of Apple.
Even if you’re not overly familiar with Huawei, it does account for nine percent of the global smartphone industry, or about 33 million devices. Apple currently has twelve percent with 45.5 million devices, and Samsung leads the market with just over 20 percent and 75.3 million devices.
Huawei CEO Richard Yu told Reuters at a launch event in Munich that, “When we announced four years ago that we wanted to sell phones, people told us we were crazy. When we said we wanted to sell 100 million phones, they told us we were crazy.”
Yu believes that, with the company’s new artificial intelligence feature integrated into its phones, Huawei can overcome its competitors.
“We are going to take (Apple) step-by-step, innovation-by-innovation,” Yu said. “There will be more opportunities. Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality. It is like driving a car. At every curve or turn, there is an opportunity to overtake the competition.”
Huawei is working to break into European markets, particularly Germany, France, and the UK. It is already the top seller in Finland. In Canada, it has just launched the Nova Plus.