When it comes to the name Samsung most of us think about smartphones and tablets, other might think about TVs or refrigerators but no matter the product, fact is that if you aren’t a Samsung item owner yourself, it’s almost certain you know someone who is.
And yet, despite this popularity, there are lots of other interesting and even amazing facts that draw Samsung in its real size, shape and color but for some reason these things are less known.
So today we are going to tell you some of them.
Samsung was founded in 1938 in Korea and even if started as a trade business to export Korean food to China it soon got to operate its own flour mills and confectionery machines.
The name « Samsung » given by its founder, Byung-Chull Lee, means « three stars » which might have a calm resonance for Westerners but according to the local culture, it is a rather megalomaniacal name expressing « eternity » (reminding us about Jeff Bezos’s « Amazon« ).
Of course it grew continuously, diversified and spread, bla-bla, made black-and-white TVs in 1970, personal computers (meant only for Korean market) in 1982, etc. But let’s jump to 1990 because that’s the moment when superlatives start being associated with this brand.
Yes, not just one superlative but many of them.
A whole lot of them actually.
To begin with, Samsung is a major electronic components manufacturer making pretty much anything from lithium-ion batteries to memory chips, application processors or LCD, LED, AMOLED screens and panels.
In fact, it is the world’s-largest memory chip maker since 1993 and the world’s-largest manufacturer of OLEDs since 2004.
Being able to make any kind of component at top performance-price efficiency level is a huge advantage.
First, it allowed Samsung to assemble them into any imaginable device: TVs, phones, tablets, cameras, printers, laptops, you name it.
Then, it allowed Samsung to make these devices in any imaginable form.
A quick example: most smartphone producers had a real problem trying to figure out which size would be best received by the public. Too big or too small could spell disaster so finding out the optimal sizes was a struggle and releasing them was a gamble.
But not for Samsung: they simply released their phones in all sizes and shapes and focused on the best received models afterwards.
Thirdly, being a key component manufacturer allowed Samsung to have the upper hand when it comes to direct relationship with competitors.
Quick example again: common perception is that Samsung and Apple are worst enemies, pure and simple.
But like Oscar Wilde once wrote, « the truth is rarely pure and never simple« .
Samsung is a key supplier for Apple (providing flash-memories) and Apple cannot do anything about that, at least for the time being.
Of course, in its turn Apple is a key customer for Samsung at around 8 billion USD yearly revenue level (for the year 2012) but hey, it’s only money!
So the notorious patent-litigation clashes between the two giant « bulls » are in reality much softer and delicate than they appear to be.
They are « frenemies« , probably stuck together for a long term, some say.
But back to superlatives, Samsung Electronics is the largest IT Company in the world (Apple comes second) and regarding patents, in the US it’s the second largest patent holder.
And think that all the above were about Samsung Electronics, which is the most visible part of Samsung.
But do you think that Burj Khalifa in Dubai (world’s highest building, 828 m.) or Taipei 101 in Taiwan (509 m.) or Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur (452 m.) are visible enough?
OK, good, because it’s Samsung’s construction division who built them.
And there’s more: Samsung Heavy Industry is the second largest ship-builder in the world, Samsung Life Insurance is ranked 14-th in the world among insurance companies and Cheil Worldwide, a Samsung subsidiary, is world’s 15-th largest advertising Company.
Samsung also holds the largest amusement theme park in Korea (the Samsung Everland, do not confuse with Michael Jackson’s Neverland), ranked 13-th in the world but let’s stop the enumeration right here as you surely got the basic idea by now.
Just two short stories before finishing, just to get an idea on how all these achievements were made possible.
Lee Kun-Hee, the 3-rd son of the founder, took over as Samsung’s chairman in 1987 shortly after his father’s death.
In 1993 he took a world tour to see for himself how Samsung’s international subsidiaries were doing.
So he visited electronics stores which, for instance in California, had stacks of Samsung TVs covered with dust as no one would buy them.
He got so mad he summoned all Samsung executives from around the world (hundreds) in Frankfurt at Falkenstein Grand Hotel Kempinski and delivered them a speech that took … well … three days long.
The speech was interrupted only for sleeping purposes.
The transcript of that speech resulted in a distilled 200 pages book that was made available for each and every Samsung employee.
And for those who couldn’t read, a cartoon version was issued too.
Yes, a Bible in its own rights, and its main commandement was: « change absolutely everything except for your wife and children« .
The consequences of this speech were so fast and positive, Samsung later purchased all the furnishing from Kempinski Hotel and precisely recreated the room which became a Samsung sanctuary of sorts.
The other relevant story took place 2 years later, in 1995 when a most embarassing incident happened: Chairman Lee learned that the cell phones he gave as New Year’s gifts proved to be inoperable.
He ordered that a pile of some 150.000 phones is assembled in a field near one of the factories, gathered more than 2.000 staff members around the pile and set fire turning all devices to ashes.
Bulldozers then razed the remnants and Lee simply told the ashamed audience he will do the same whenever he will encounter poor-quality again.
Well folks, let’s not finish before telling that, same as other IT giants, Samsung is focusing its really considerable R&D power towards a multitude of directions, including the internet-of-things we’ve recently told you about.
And it seems that no matter what the future will bring, Samsung will be there anyway, faithful to its name and due to its ability of gathering at any time a pile of whatever things and turn it to ashes.
« Gangnam style« .