Samsung buys speaker fir­mHar­man


One of the first things Samsung Elec­tron­ics Co Pres­i­dent Young Sohn said when talk­ing about the SouthKorean com­pany’s $8 bil­lion deal to buy Har­man In­ter­na­tional In­dus­tries Inc is that the elec­tron­ics gi­ant has no in­ten­tion of build­ing a car.

The em­pha­sis was in­ten­tional. Samsung’s tar­get cus­tomers are car­mak­ers who’d love to give their ve­hi­cles smart­phone-like ca­pa­bil­i­ties but are wary of sur­ren­der­ing un­fet­tered ac­cess to their dash­boards.

They have largely kept a dis­tance from Google, which could mine driver data for its ownuses, or Ap­ple Inc, which un­til re­cently had de­signs on build­ing its own car.

Samsung wants to marry its con­sumer elec­tron­ics ex­per­tise and the fast 5G cel­lu­lar net­work it is de­vel­op­ing with Har­man’s pres­ence in dash­boards all over the world.

If it works, they can of­fer car­mak­ers a lightning-quick con­nected sys­tem for in­fo­tain­ment, map­ping, concierge ser­vices and au­tonomous driv­ing — and all with­out the worry that the au­tomak­ers would be help­ing a fu­ture com­peti­tor.

“This is not about build­ing a car,” Young said in an in­ter­view. Sev­eral au­tomak­ers “came to us and asked us to help with tech­nolo­gies like 5G, or ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence or mem­ory. We can har­ness tech­nolo­gies to pro­vide a bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence to au­tomak­ers.”

Deals like Samsung’s for Har­man­could be wel­come by au­tomak­ers, who want to con­trol the rev­enue from con­nected car ser­vices and the cus­tomer data it gen­er­ates as much as pos­si­ble, said Jim Hines, a re­search di­rec­tor at Gart­ner.


A cus­tomer tries a Har­man In­ter­na­tional In­dus­tries Inc’s JBL branded speaker at Har­man store in Tokyo, Ja­pan.

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