What makes him powerful: J.K. Shin is certainly not afraid to take the stage and introduce new products. As the president of Samsung Mobile Communications, Shin regularly appears at trade shows showing off his company's latest smartphone designs and helping to build Samsung into the world's largest smartphone maker.
The company's strategy of building its smartphone portfolio started in earnest in 2010 with the introduction of the original Galaxy S smartphone. At that time, Shin declared Samsung's ambitious smartphone agenda, which including doubling its market share.
Key to that ambition was developing tight relationships with U.S. carriers, something that became evident with Samsung's introduction of the Galaxy S and original GalaxyTab Android tablet on all four Tier 1 carriers (and later smaller carriers as well).
The formula seemed to work well, and continued with the launch of the Galaxy S II in February (the device is available on AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile USA). Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) will be selling Samsung's Galaxy Nexus device.
All the while Samsung's smartphone prowess has grown. In the first quarter of 2011 the company said that 18 percent of its handset shipments in the quarter were smartphones, up from 4 percent in the year-ago quarter. By the second quarter analysts said Samsung had surpassed Nokia (NYSE:NOK) to claim the No. 2 global smartphone spot, right behind Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). Samsung then claimed the top spot in the third quarter, and according to research firm Strategy Analytics, Samsung shipped an estimated 27.8 million smartphone units, far outstripping Apple's 17.1 million iPhone shipments.
Shin helped Samsung achieve the No. 1 spot by embarking on two strategies. One is to forge tight relationships with carriers (he was on stage at Verizon's LTE device rollout at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, pulling smartphones and tablets from various suit pockets). And the second is to work with multiple operating systems. Samsung's smartphone bread and butter is Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform, but the company also has increased its presence by working with Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone software as well as its homegrown bada platform, which Samsung has used primarily in emerging markets.
Shin's aggressive strategy (as seen most vividly in his combative attitude toward Apple over their long-running patent dispute) has made Samsung a leader, in sharp contrast to its smaller South Korean rival LG, which is trying to emulate Samsung's strategy in smartphones. --Phil