Q&A: Samsung’s mobile strategy


The Samsung Galaxy Note is a 5.3-inch phone with a stylus, a device that falls somewhere between a smartphone and a tablet. (Sean Gallup/GETTY IMAGES)

So as U.S. giants Apple, Google, and Amazon shake up the consumer electronics industry – all making their own mobile software and devices that connect users to their own content – how do partners like Samsung and HTC react?

Samsung is embroiled in a patent dispute with Apple – one of many battles by mobile phone makers over intellectual property rights.

The company declined to comment on its legal patent dispute, but in an interview here at the Consumer Electronics Show, Justin Denison, Samsung’s mobile chief strategy officer for the Americas, and John Godfrey, vice president of government and public affairs, talked about how the South Korean giant sees the market moving forward and the policy issues it cares about in the United States.

Here’s an edited version of our interview:

Q: Google wants to make its own devices with its acquisition of Motorola. Microsoft is teaming up more closely with Nokia on Windows phones. Amazon and Apple are making their own tablets and in some ways defining the market. How do you view these changes and how will Samsung stay ahead?

Denison: Our strategy has been multiplatform and we have consistently offered a breadth of choices and best of breed and that won’t change. We’ve had great success with Android, and Microsoft Windows may have a smaller developer base at this point but has great potential.

Do you see yourself offering your own platform too?

Denison: We do have a Samsung Mobile operating system called Bada which has had success in France and Germany and Korea. That system enables us to create flexible and localized apps that aren’t available on other platforms. That is just one other option along with other platforms.

Will you bring Bada to the U.S.?

Denison: We aren’t discussing that publicly.

Can you stay platform agnostic?

Denison: To me it’s more important to offer the end user a suite of devices than to vertically integrate all consumer electronics in a single platform stack. I don’t think the price of entry is only the platform, but also the end-user experience. And a consumer doesn’t care what platform is used, they just care about getting content everywhere and whenever they want it.

So how do policy matters in Washington, D.C., affect these plans?

Godfrey: This explosion of power in mobile makes it possible to do the unimagined. But we are looking at spectrum policy and know the government has to find ways to get more spectrum out there to deal with the explosion of demand. Video will be huge on mobile devices and we are already putting pressure on U.S. mobile networks.

Denison: Video is a huge driver on our devices and even applications that aren’t bandwidth intensive take on a different meaning when on the cloud, where a single signal goes back and forth constantly. The near-term solution is LTE deployment, but we have concerns about what happens after that.


View Photo Gallery: The annual CES exhibition allows companies to showcase their new and innovative consumer electronics. It is being held Jan. 10-13 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Cecilia Kang is a staff writer covering the business of media and entertainment.
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