The world’s biggest information-technology firm is diving into green technology and the health business.
IN 2000 Samsung started making batteries for digital gadgets. Ten years later it sold more of them than any other company in the world. In 2001 it threw resources into flat-panel televisions. Within four years it was the market leader. In 2002 the firm bet heavily on “flash” memory. The technology it delivered made the iPhone and iPad a reality, and made Samsung Apple’s biggest supplier—and now its biggest hardware competitor.
The handsome payoffs from these ballsy bets made the South Korean company a colossus; last year its sales passed $135 billion. Now it is embarking on a similarly audacious plan to move away from electronics into technologies where it barely has a presence today. It intends to spend $20 billion over ten years on solar panels, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) used for lighting, electric-vehicle batteries, medical devices and biotech drugs. These businesses shift Samsung away from easily substitutable gadgets towards more essential industrial goods (see table)—or from “infotainment” to “lifecare”, as the company puts it. Just as electronics defined swathes of the 20th century, the company believes green technology and health care will be central to the 21st.
With these plans Samsung sees itself bringing technologies that are vital for society into much broader use. The company has always had an eye for more than just the bottom line, seeking both to epitomise and to further the progress of its home country. Now it talks idealistically of improving the world by driving down the costs of zero-carbon power and providing poor countries and rural areas with medical equipment and drugs that they cannot afford today.
From The Economist. Read the full article here.