Yoon-Woo Lee, vice chairman and CEO, Samsung
What makes him powerful: After scoring the top spot at Samsung last year following a management shakeup (partly due to charges of tax evasion against the previous chief) Lee now commands a company that appears unstoppable on the handset front. Samsung has managed to rocket past Motorola and other competitors, and now sits as the second largest handset maker in the world. Indeed, over the past year, Samsung has grown its global market share from less than 15 percent to almost 20 percent, according to Strategy Analytics--essentially stealing share from the likes of Motorola and Sony Ericsson, which suffered distinct declines in share during the same period.
In North America Samsung's rise has been equally dramatic. The company--the region's No. 1 handset supplier--has grown its share of the North American market from 22.1 percent in the first quarter of 2008 to 26.3 percent in the first quarter of 2009, according to Strategy Analytics. Again, that growth came at the expense of Motorola and other rivals--and is especially notable given Americans' seeming bottomless appetite for all things BlackBerry and iPhone.
On the handset front, Samsung has made sure to keep its game nimble, to say the least. Samsung was at the forefront of the thin-phone craze following the success of Motorola's Razr, and the company employed the same fast-follower strategy in the wake of the touchscreen iPhone revolution. On the smartphone side, the company has dabbled in Symbian, Windows Mobile and, most recently, Android, and has made a concerted effort to meet operator requests at every turn.
Further, Samsung enjoys a rock solid position in the electronics space, thanks to far-flung efforts that range from TVs to microwaves to air conditioners. Samsung's significant investments in memory and display technologies can't hurt its chance on the handset landscape, either.
Whether Samsung will be able to retain its footing in a handset landscape seemingly changing by the minute remains to be seen, but the company and its leadership clearly have demonstrated an ability to rise to a range of challenges. --Mike