8. J.K. Shin, President, Samsung Mobile Communications – Most Powerful People in Wireless


J.K. Shin, President, Samsung Mobile CommunicationsWhat makes him powerful: As president of Samsung Mobile Communications, the world's largest maker of smartphones and handsets, the decisions that J.K. Shin makes can ripple across the globe, affecting component suppliers, carriers, other handset makers and network infrastructure providers.

Of course, Shin's primary concern is making sure that Samsung retains its momentum. And that momentum is impressive: In the third quarter, Samsung posted net profit of $6 billion, up 91 percent from around $3.14 billion in the year-ago period and beating analysts' estimates of $5.7 billion, according to Bloomberg. Samsung's telecommunications unit--dominated by its cell phone division--made up 69 percent of Samsung's operating profit, up from 62 percent in the second quarter.

Samsung's rousing performance indicates the company's strategy of selling phones into every possible market through every possible iteration seems to be working. Though Samsung primarily focuses its advertising on its wildly successful Galaxy S III flagship Android phone, the company also sells a wide range of mid- and low-tier smartphones running both Android and Windows Phone. Further the company continues to enjoy solid sales of feature phones. A glance across the phone portfolios of the top carriers in the United States shows a wide range of Samsung models hitting a variety of price points and form factors.

Samsung's success in smartphones is countered only by Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which continues to enjoy sales of its iPhone across the world. Indeed, Kim Young Chan, a Seoul-based analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp., described to Bloomberg a Samsung-Apple duopoly that will continue to drive the world's cell phone market for the foreseeable future.

But Shin's work at Samsung has been rocky. Samsung lost a critical court battle against Apple this year that resulted in a $1 billion verdict against the South Korean company. The ruling highlighted the treacherous patent-litigation landscape that Shin must thread in order to maintain Samsung's thrust in the mobile market.

To preserve Samsung's position, Shin likely will employ Samsung's greatest strength: Meeting the needs of wireless carriers. While Samsung has made a show of taking its Galaxy S III directly to consumers, much of the company's successes lies in Samsung's ability to supply wireless carriers with the products they need at the time they need it. For example, many of the smaller carriers in the U.S. market launched LTE services with Samsung smartphones--an indication Samsung is keen to build gadgets that will support their LTE spectrum bands.

It's that kind of customer focus--on end users and carriers--that Shin likely will retain in 2013.+Mike

Special Report: Top 25 Most Powerful People in U.S. Wireless 2012