Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Samsung's Toyshop

Young people attending college today have always known the Internet and cell phones, hardly remember floppy discs and are instantly astonished when told that people once watched television in black and white.

So it was impressive when today’s tech-savvy students were similarly taken aback by the innovations they witnessed Wednesday at Samsung Electronics Co

And while we can tell you about what we saw at the company’s center in Suwon City, we can’t show you anything past the lobby, where this picture was taken.

No cameras allowed.

As you see in the photo, we were warmly welcomed by one of the world’s fastest growing companies. After a briefing about revenue growth, product lines and corporate philosophy, they showed us the toys.

The first thing we saw was a cell phone that shows you the person speaking to you on the other line. Then there’s the cell phone with a small projector built in, which can project a widescreen image of up to 50 inches. Also of interest to the style-conscious was the phone designed by Georgio Armani.

Another phone will allow you to obtain your body temperature and heart rate while working out. If you like your music, another option is the wireless Bang and Olufsen speakers.

The company’s cell phone research is done at the Suwon campus.

Getting away from the hand-held devices, we were shown a giant high definition TV within a handmade wooden frame. It could be yours for about $9,000 (U.S.), but it’s not yet available for sale in the United States.

Running down the list, there also were the 80-inch plasma screen, the pebble-design MP3 players, many other home entertainment products and the prettiest air conditioners we’d ever seen.

Our visit could be compared to being at the annual Consumer Electronics Show.

Of Samsung’s 159,000 workforce, nearly a third, of 40,000 are engaged in research and development. More than 10 percent of Samsung employees have PhDs.

"Because of R&D investment spending, we are among the top 10 companies in the world. We believe that the large investments for R&D have helped us to be the leading company," said one of the executives giving the briefing.

To help retain quality employees, Samsung invests in benefits such as meals for employees – several delicious choices in Japanese, Korea and Indian cuisine were available at lunch today – child day care, exercise facilities and continuing education. One member of Samsung’s human resources team said that another draw is the Korean business philosophy towards solving problems – that there can be more than just one solution.

After seeing the present and future, we were shown Samsung’s "museum" and within an hour everyone had another souvenir from our trip, a handsome framed copy of the photo – similar to the one above – which employees took only an hour earlier.

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