5G and Beyond

Samsung eyes wider gadget ecosystem

LAS VEGAS – Here at the big CES trade show, consumer electronics giant Samsung said it plans to offer a wide range of products – from phones to washing machines – that can work together seamlessly. The strategy is designed to make each of the company's products more useful and desirable, and it echoes Apple's efforts to create an ecosystem around its own electronics devices.

Jong-Hee Han, a top Samsung executive, used the company's press conference here to outline "Samsung's strategy to deliver on the promise of the connected experience across the key touchpoints in our lives – in our homes, cars and at work," according to the company.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Han explained that Samsung's different device teams previously worked mostly in their own silos. But since he took over the business at the end of 2021, he's been working to develop products that can seamlessly work with each other. "What's the best device and method to enable a certain connected feature in the most effortless, user-friendly way?" he told the publication.

In its CES presentation, Samsung outlined a variety of ways its products can work with other Samsung gadgets or products from other manufacturers. For example, the company showed off technology that syncs Samsung TVs with Philips lights. Its microwaves can get cooking directions from phones that scan a barcode. The company also said it's working to connect a variety of smart home applications via its SmartThings business and the new Matter smart home connection protocol.

In its phone business specifically, Samsung showed off more prototypes with folding displays.

Samsung has been working to use folding displays as a way to gain visibility in the cutthroat smartphone market. The company's existing Galaxy Z Fold and Galaxy Z Flip stand as prime examples of that gambit, and are already on sale through a variety of US network operators.

However, folding phones still account for a sliver of the global smartphone market. According to Cnet, research firm IDC estimates that foldables account for 1.1% of the global smartphone market. The firm expects foldable phone shipments to hit 41.5 million units in 2026, up from 13.5 million units in 2022.

Further, Samsung will have to navigate the market for smartphones, and other consumer goods, amid a slowdown in demand.

Broadly, Samsung is hoping to leverage its vast electronics expertise to carve out a dominant position in consumer offerings in general and mobile products specifically. For wireless network operators, that's an important strategy considering the number of smartphone vendors has been shrinking during the past few years. For example, LG in 2021 announced its exit from the smartphone business, mainly due to pressures from heavyweights like Apple and Samsung. That move essentially gives more market power to big smartphone players like Apple and Samsung.

But Samsung's efforts could also create headaches for network operators looking to create their own ecosystems. For example, operators like Verizon are hoping to create new revenue streams by connecting gadgets like portable gaming consoles. If Samsung expands its device ecosystem, such operators may need to decide how they might participate or respond.

Apple, of course, has long been working on developing a tight ecosystem around its own family of gadgets that span tablets, phones, laptops, watches and other devices. The strategy has proven effective in roping in new customers and encouraging existing customers to buy more Apple products.

Related posts:

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

One of America's most loved telecoms get-togethers, The BIG 5G Event, will be returning to Austin in 2023 to host 1,500+ telecom, cloud and technology professionals — and we want you to be a part of it!

For three days, you can meet and network with leaders from every part of the North American 5G ecosystem and hear from over 150 speakers on the hottest industry topics. To apply for your complimentary pass to the event, visit this link.

Sign In