Samsung looking for next big thing through new strategy and innovation hub

Samsung explains its game plan for enlisting and enabling enterprise startups through a new Silicon Valley hub.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor
Credit: James Martin, CNET

MENLO PARK, CALIF. -- Samsung made major strides in the consumer world with the success of the Galaxy S III last year, but the tech giant is planning for a long-term boost through fueling new businesses.

During a press conference on Monday afternoon, Samsung's chief strategy officer of device solutions, Young Sohn, explained the tech giant's big picture strategy, which is a complete "connected world," in which basically every electronic device is connected to the internet.

He continued to describe that for Samsung, that the "connected world" means "seamless sharing of media contacts, anywhere, anytime with any devices."

To support this, Sohn predicted that 100 billion devices will be connected by 2020.

Credit: James Martin, CNET

Thus, Sohn said that the next five years will be about transformation, adding that we're in a post-PC era, requiring a "re-imagining of computing operating systems."

Sohn admitted that this is leading to "some challenges in terms of innovation," including new and varying demographic needs as well as security.

One of Samsung's initial answers is to look for and enable new talent outside of the company.

The Seoul-based corporation introduced a few different schemes on Monday to address this strategy, starting with a "global engine" designed to produce and speed up new ideas and business for Samsung's Device Solutions unit.

Part of this will be supported by a new Strategy and Innovation Center in Silicon Valley, intended to offer a local presence and mentorship from industry partners and experts.

"Our goal is not to be an incubator," Sohn clarified, explaining its about also encouraging innovation beyond Silicon Valley within other communities throughout the United States.

The Menlo Park hub is already open, matched by a similarly-focused center in Israel.

Samsung will also be offering in-person support through 24 research and development centers in eight countries to execute some of the product development coming out of the Innovation Center.

Promising to offer support from the concept stage through go-to-market, Sohn cited that there is a focus on "disruptive platforms," -- specifically mobile health and privacy, cloud and data architectures, computer human interfaces, and the Internet of everything.

Additionally, Samsung's investment arm, Samsung Ventures, will be involved by funding startups with an early-stage $100 million Catalyst Fund focused on components and subsystems.

Startups also have the opportunity of being boosted through the SamsungCreate Challenge, a contest aimed at identifying and enabling engineers, artists and other innovators to build technologies that improve lives while addressing the connected world strategy.

Nevertheless, while Samsung is poetic in asserting that it is interested in supporting innovation, it does have a more specific agenda.

For example, by 2020, Samsung is planning on (or at least wants) a 5G smartphone with a 1080p HD ready and Youm Flexible OLED panel as well as a 13Wh battery. For comparison, the 4G Galaxy SIII has a 8Wh battery and a 720p HD Super AMOLED screen.

Sohn acknowledged that these initiatives are about filling "strategic gaps" at Samsung while also growing its global partner and customer bases.

Credit: James Martin, CNET
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