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Samsung Battles Apple With Galaxy S Smartphone

Posted July. 01, 2010 12:41,   


When Apple launched its new smartphone iPhone 4 June 8, Samsung Electronics released its smartphone Galaxy S without prior notice.

The Korean electronics maker said, “This is the culmination of our company’s 20-year history of handset manufacturing.”

People in and out of the company said Samsung timed the release with Apple’s launch of the iPhone 4 to compete squarely with Apple. Aware of the “Apple shock” triggered by the iPhone’s entry into Korea in November last year, Samsung reacted in an orderly manner this time to prevent a recurrence, experts said.

Many people wonder what happened inside of the company after the shock.

○ Paradigm shift in product development

The Dong-A Ilbo interviewed Monday Kim Hak-sang, director of the platform development department at the company’s wireless division who led the development of the Galaxy S, and Ahn Won-ik, head of a software platform group at Digital City of Samsung Electronics in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province. Kim led hardware development and Ahn software development.

A task force to develop the Galaxy S was set up in October last year shortly before the iPhone arrived on the Korean market. The team first designed the hardware but had difficulty choosing an operating system.

Kim said, “We applied many operating systems and concluded that consumers and mobile carriers want Google’s Android.”

The task force is different from the previous handset development team at the company’s wireless division. Samsung allowed flexibility in its guidelines on developing new products.

Ahn said, “In the past, there were clear guidelines for product development and they never changed, so we had to strictly follow the guidelines. This time, however, they are constantly changing.”

“From the beginning of development, we sent a prototype to power users not only in Korea but also in the U.S. and European countries and based on their feedback, we’ve improved the product.”

The sense of touch and electricity consumption were improved based on such feedback.

By actively incorporating opinions of the product planning and marketing departments, the team changed the smartphone’s design seven times.

The timing of the release was set, but developers were embarrassed because of constantly changing guidelines.

Ahn said, “At one point, we received more than 1,000 pieces of feedback from overseas power users,” adding, “We felt increasingly burdened since we had to choose from those that deserved attention and discuss whether corrections were necessary.”

○ Big change in decision making

It is difficult to achieve flexible product planning and rapid production at the same time. To meet these two goals, the company simplified the decision-making and reporting processes.

Kim said, “Previously, the staff members in charge submitted well-written reports to executives. Now, they have meetings with staff members with rough draft reports.”

This was to save time in drawing up reports and spend more time developing products.

achim@donga.com higgledy@donga.com