According to a recent article in a Korean daily news site, Chosun Ilbo, Samsung missed the first chance to use Android Inc. software which has the largest smartphone OS market share worldwide (Strike 1). In 2004, Android Founder Andy Rubin visited Samsung (prior to Google) to explore potential interest in adopting the operating system. Samsung declined. One Samsung executive reportedly asked Rubin how many employees the Android team had. After hearing the number “8,” the executive commented that Samsung already had 2,000 software engineers working on smartphone development. So Samsung didn’t see the power of a small, talented, nimble and innovative team.
The rest is history. About one year later after the Samsung meeting, Google acquired Android in August of 2005 for $50 million. Android is now used in 43% of all smartphones sold worldwide. Samsung is only one provider among 22 handset manufacturers, although it is among the market share leaders.
Google also trumped Samsung and other potential suitors for Motorola Mobility for its treasure chest of 17,000 patents and another 7,000 patents pending. (Strike 2.)
So the key question is: Will Samsung miss the Next Big Thing in Green Technology? (Strike 3?) One key challenge of Samsung is the NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome. Samsung prides itself on its technological innovations and consumer electronics leadership in many areas: televisions, home appliances, smartphones and semiconductors. Yet their current success may be causing Samsung to look at the world through rose-colored glasses.
If Samsung were open to the Next Big Thing, there are a number of green innovations that would be ripe for acquisition. With nearly $20 billion in cash, Samsung is poised for acquiring technology that would complement its broad portfolio of success:
- Samsung could acquire a leading provider of biodegradable and soluble plastics for use in all consumer electronics products and packaging. Coca-cola and Pepsi are already using plant-plastics. Puma has water soluble plastics in its packaging. Samsung could make such plastics as ubiquitous as its semiconductors for its own products and licensing;
- Samsung could launch a Smart Home Energy Management system that could be the first of its kind to link home consumer electronics, appliances, lighting and AC/heating into a user-friendly mobile application. Consumers could access and control home energy use from their smartphones or tablets to minimize energy use in their home, from the office or on the road.
- MIT’s paper-thin solar cells may allow Samsung to corner that technology, although Apple is already evaluating this for future use.
While other emerging technologies are accelerating the adoption of greentech by Fortune 500 companies and consumers, Samsung could re-evaluate its roadmap to benefit Samsung and millions of Samsung consumers. It may also need to review the heart of its corporate culture. After all, many still believe Samsung can win with green (eco) products. The next time an innovative green company approaches Samsung with a vetted idea that can win, Samsung needs to “Just Say Yes.”
What Green Tech products/services could Samsung develop to help consumers live life to the fullest? Your comments are welcome.
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© 2011 by Ed Valdez. All rights reserved.
* The Samsung logo and trademark are the property of the Samsung Group and Samsung Electronics.