2015 marked the first full year of single-digit smartphone shipment growth on record, and the company that might have felt the repercussions of such slow growth the most was Samsung. And while up until now, the South Korean company’s mobile woes were pinned to its hardware, a report by Reuters concludes that the blame truly lies in its software.
When it comes to software, Samsung has reportedly been unable to truly differentiate itself from the competition. Part of the reason for this alleged ineptitude is a lack of trust from Samsung’s head honchos, though the blame was also placed on Samsung placing a low priority on software. According to an unnamed source, there was a dispute within the company itself with regards to a hands-free app for the Galaxy S4, one of Samsung’s flagship smartphones for 2013.
“Samsung’s upper management just inherently doesn’t understand software,” said the unnamed source, who was a former Samsung employee. “They get hardware – in fact, they get hardware better than anyone else. But software is a completely different ballgame.”
Samsung also reportedly prioritized hardware over software because of the short-term benefits attached to the former when compared to the long-term efforts required to achieve benefits from the latter. Two examples were Samsung’s ChatON messaging service, which failed to gain much traction with users before its eventual shutdown in March, and the Milk Video app, which closed for business in November after a year-long lifespan.
Samsung has seemingly recognized its failure to support software innovation within the company, since Dongjin Koh, a veteran from Samsung’s mobile division, took over the day-to-day role of J.K. Shin, longtime Samsung mobile chief. Samsung credits Samsung Pay, the company’s mobile payment service, and Samsung Knox, the company’s security platform, to Koh’s efforts in the company.
“Samsung has achieved notable progress in recent software and service offerings that have been well received by the market,” said Samsung in a recent statement. “Including mobile payment service Samsung Pay, SmartThings IoT (Internet of Things) platform, mobile security solution Knox, and the Tizen operating system which powers our TVs and wearables.”
In addition, according to Samsung, its Global Innovation Center is coming up with software-related technologies. Time will tell as to whether Samsung’s renewed focus on software will pay dividends, but with the company’s mobile sales slowing down during the third quarter, it almost has to.