LAS VEGAS Samsung Electronics, the global leader in consumer smartphones, is planning two major thrusts in 2013: bulking up mobile content and moving faster into the corporate market dominated by Research in Motion.
The South Korean electronics company is investing in devices that enterprise users like corporations will endorse, with a higher level of security and reliability than general users need. In doing so, Samsung is capitalizing on doubts about the longevity of the BlackBerry as its Canadian maker struggles to revive growth.
Samsung's corporate market ambitions have advanced as the Galaxy SIII, its popular flagship smartphone, won the requisite security certifications from companies, said Kevin Packingham, chief product officer for Samsung Mobile USA.
As RIM prepares to launch its next-generation BlackBerry 10 this quarter, the company's future remains shaky. Corporate technology officers have begun to explore other smartphones, such as those by Apple Inc or Samsung.
"The enterprise space has suddenly become wide open. The RIM problems certainly fuelled a lot of what the CIOs are going through, which is they want to get away from a lot of the proprietary solutions," Packingham said in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. "They want something that integrates what they are doing with their IT systems. Samsung is investing in that area."
"It's been a focus for a long time but the products have evolved now that we can really take advantage of that," he added. "We knew we had to build more tech devices to successfully enter the enterprise market. What really turned that needle was that we had the power of the GS3."
Samsung in 2012 overtook Apple as the world's largest maker of smartphones, with a vastly larger selection of cellphones that attacked different price points and proved popular in emerging markets.
German business software maker SAP provides employees with Samsung's Galaxy S III, the larger Galaxy Note and the Galaxy Tab, SAP Chief Information Officer Oliver Bussmann said in an interview.
"The one clear trend in enterprise is the shift away from one device to multiple devices," said Bussman, who makes 10 devices available to SAP employees for official use. The list includes Apple's iPhone and iPad, Nokia Lumia and RIM's Blackberry.
"Because of the fragmentation of the Android software, we decided to go with just one Android company and we went with Samsung," he added.
Now, the Korean hardware specialist is beefing up its software - an area in which it has lagged arch-enemy Apple, which revolutionized the mobile phone from 2007 with its content-rich, developer-led iPhone ecosystem.
Packingham sees an area ripe for innovation - combining the mobile phone with Samsung's strength, the TV, which has barely evolved in the past decade.
Still, the U.S.-based executive remained cagey about Samsung's plans for content and enterprise.
"You are going to see from content services, we'll start to integrate what's happening on the big screen, what's happening on the tablet," he said.
"We know now that people like to explore content that they are watching on TV while they have a tablet in their lap, and that's going to be a big theme for this year."
(Editing by Richard Chang)