So what did Samsung give the world? The Korean multinational tech giant was founded in 1938 by Lee Byung-chul and they began life by making noodles. Yep, noodles, following the Korean War of the early 1950s, the company diversified into a wide range of areas including insurance and retail sectors.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that they began entering the electronics industry. The Samsung we know today came into being in the 1990s, by which time they’d begun producing computer components like RAM, hard drives and LCD panels. By the early noughties it had sold its hard drive business to Seagate and by 2012 it became the worlds’ largest mobile phone maker, surpassing even Nokia. The Samsung Galaxy S line of smartphones was launched in 2010 and was expanded to encompass devices of varying screen sizes. Even tablets now bare the Galaxy name.
Of course Samsung has often been defined by its ongoing legal battles with Apple. In August of 2012 they were forced to pay $1 billion worth of damages to the Cupertino tech company on the grounds of patent infringement. The embarrassing courtroom wars between these two companies threatened to hurt innovation, a painful reality that seemed to hurt Apple’s credibility more.
Apple were determined to prevent Samsung, its biggest smartphone competitor, from eating into its market share by any means possible. But the reality was Samsung, HTC and other handset makers had taken a look at what Apple had done with their iOS-powered iPhone and in many ways, improved upon it by designing larger, more capable devices. Apple’s lawsuit seemed disingenuous in my view. It was less about protecting its IP and more about trying to damage its competition because they didn’t go after the genuine iPhone knockoffs coming out of China or other large smartphone makers because they didn’t pose as much of a threat. In August of 2011, Apple were accused of alliterating an image of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab tablet computer to make it look more like an iPad.
Funnily enough, Apple never seemed to have the balls to go after Google, the company that produces the Android operating system. Considering the OS is what truly makes a device what it is, it was clear Apple’s motivations in attacking Samsung were disingenuous to say the least.
Nevertheless, Samsung has come through all of this with its reputation relatively intact and it’s Apple who have suffered the lion’s share of criticism from they industry.
Samsung have certainly made their own mistakes over the years. Even up until 2015, Samsung were still copying Apple’s handset designs quite blatantly with bottom of their Galaxy S6 smartphone bearing an uncanny resemblance to the bottom of the iPhone 6.
They’ve also faced criticism for producing an overly convoluted product line and have often compromised their premium brand handsets by making smaller, cheaper and lower quality editions of them. They’ve at times stretched themselves too thin with cheap and nasty smaller Galaxy series smartphones that deliver a poor user experience. All this just to have a hand in as many market segments as possible.
This strategy has led to other handset makers to produce low-end smartphones, often with more success than Samsung themselves. Samsung’s primary strength has been in making high-end devices, not the cheap and nasty stuff.
Nevertheless Samsung remain a powerful force in the tech sector, occupying multiple areas of the market. They’ve have begun innovating in areas such as smart TVs and even virtual reality devices with their Gear VR brand. Their Gear Fit line was their successful attempt at entering the relatively new world of fitness and health tracking. Its reach continues to expand into new and developing areas of the tech sector including a new 2016 partnership with Microsoft that includes new Internet of Things products.
With the smartphone market beginning to reach a point of saturation in America and Europe, Samsung are going to have to reinvent themselves once again. But if they’ve started life making noodles and now make smartphones and televisions, I think they possess the adaptability needed to survive.