Friday, August 2, 2013

Korea #18: The Republic of Samsung

Most of us know Samsung smart phones and television sets.  We may have read last week that Samsung sells more smart phones than Apple and makes more money doing so.  We may know it is the world’s largest IT company.  However we have no analogy in the United States to how central one company can be to one country:  Samsung’s revenues constitute 17 percent the GDP of Korea. 

Samsung began with 40 employees in l938 and after 30 years was in the textile, insurance and food processing industries.  In the late l960’s it entered the electronics business. Around that time it entered shipbuilding, construction and began 40 years of acquisitions. Today it is comprised of 80 companies, is second in the world in ship building, 15th in construction and has large stakes in financial services, medical and bio-chemistry.  Samsung is the world's largest microchip make, followed by Micron.

 As we’ve written before, Korean is the most digitally-intensive economy in the world.  Subway riders are almost to a person on their smart phones
or tablets and nearly all of them are Samsung’s.  And that goes to those who bring their bikes on the subway.


Ask help with directions on the streets or in the subways of Seoul and Koreans will get the answer using their phones. Go to the gorgeous Leeum Samsung Gallery of Art (a separate post) and the audio guide will be a
Samsung Galaxy.  You control the volume but no need to enter numbers as you stand before art.  Just walk around and the phone automatically shows and tells you what is before you.

The Korean version of Google Earth worked beautifully to show me Seoul from the air and at street level everywhere. 

Samsung Electronics (one of four major divisions) announced record profits on July 26 and will make record investments in R and D in 2014.  Analysts see somewhat harder times ahead both because of cheaper smart phones from other companies. 


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