1. How was Samsung able to go from copycat brand to product leader? Formerly, a company that produced cheap electronic knock-offs, Samsung has emerged as a premier maker of cutting-edge, design-oriented electronics. Beginning in the 1990’s, under the new leadership of CEO Lee Kunhee, Samsung changed their corporate vision. The company established a goal of unseating rival Sony as the industry leader in consumer electronics. The company hired new, young product designers who introduced a bevy of innovative, stylish products that began to catch the eye of consumers worldwide. Samsung also began to market its products in electronic stores, rather than in just all-purpose discount department stores, to upgrade their image. In just over a decade, Samsung became the overall leader in consumer electronics.
2. Is Samsung's product development process customer centered? Team based? Systematic? The product development process of Samsung can be categorized as all of the above. It is customer-centered in that it addresses consumer needs and desires and focuses on creating products that appeal to the customer. Samsung has devoted itself to the philosophy of creating only new products that elicited a “wow!” response when test marketed, letting customers be the initial judges of the products’ merit. Product development is team based in that members from different departments collaborate on the development of a product from beginning to end (rather than having the process pass from one department to the next), in an effort to increase effectiveness and get new product concepts on the market as quickly as possible. The company’s approach is also systematic. Samsung focuses on collecting and evaluating ideas for new product concepts from all stakeholders in an effort to develop the optimum storehouse of information and ideas from which to create cutting edge electronic technology.
3. Based on the PLC, what challenges does Samsung face in managing its high-tech products? The product life cycle of consumer electronic is relative short. To keep pace in the rapidly evolving field, Samsung adopted the philosophy of “mabuljungje” (from the Chinese adage of “horse that doesn’t stop”). The company has invested heavily in capital expenditures and R&D in an effort to stay a step ahead of the game. Their aim is to research and develop new concepts as rapidly as possible, determine which are the best prospects to become successful and then get them on the market as quickly as possible. This allows the company to increase the inherently short life cycle of the electronic products, and thereby garner maximum revenue from a successful product before its inevitable demise.
4. Will Samsung likely achieve its goals in markets where it does not dominate, such as smart phones? Why or why not? Samsung seems likely to achieve significant gains in markets were it is currently less prominent. Again, this potential for increase in market share is due to the innovative thinking and planning of the organization. Samsung is planning to release a tablet computer and appstore (à laApple) that would give the company control over the content of the apps and privilege to collect revenue from advertising associated with the apps. Samsung has identified apps as the primary advertising vehicle going forward. The company also has an advantage smart phone competition in that its expertise in big screen technology will enable user-friendly integration of smart phone apps and TV display to accentuate the user experience. Overall, Samsung is a prime example of the strides a corporation can make in a relatively short time by applying concentrated, proactive strategies in product development and marketing.