Samsung's new CEO puts spotlight on software

Samsung Electronics' new CEO reiterated the company's push to more firmly establish itself in the software realm as it seeks to fend off competition from the likes of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and other technology heavyweights.

In his first speech since assuming the top spot at Samsung earlier this month, Kwon Oh-hyun reiterated comments reportedly made last year by Chairman Lee Kun-hee about the importance of software. "A particular focus must be given to serving new customer experience and value by strengthening soft capabilities in software, user experience, design and solutions," the new Samsung chief said.

Known did not say how much Samsung will spend to boost its software capabilities, but his comments come at a particularly delicate time for the company, which is now the world's largest handset and smartphone vendor.

The need to further establish its own proprietary software offerings was highlighted last year after Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) announced plans to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. Samsung relies on Google's Android platform for most of its smartphone sales. Google has pledged to keep Android open, but many analysts have feared it may use Motorola to take more control over Android.

After the deal was announced last year, Lee reportedly told top Samsung managers to focus on ways to improve Samsung's software competence, including possibly through mergers and acquisitions. Samsung's latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S III, features a number of software bells and whistles, including S Beam to share HD content between devices via Near Field Communications, and S voice, a speech recognition software that can perform phone tasks.

Samsung has historically supported multiple operating systems; the company also makes phones running Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone and its own bada platform. Samsung also recently joined the Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization that oversees the open-source Linux operating system. Samsung signed on as a platinum member, paying $500,000 per year in exchange for a seat on the Linux Foundation board of directors.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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