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Autumn 2014
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IBC Report: Samsung Talks Platform Building During Keynote
Samsung is already the world's largest TV set maker. Now, it wants to get those sets talking to each other.
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Samsung Electronics says it aims to become one of the world's largest platforms for distributing content and advertising.

Keynoting IBC in Amsterdam, David Eun, head of the $140 billion Samsung empire's newly created Global Media Group and advisor to the Korean company's most senior consumer products executives, provided details of the ad services and formats it is trialing to run on connected platforms.

"We've been the leading company in TV sales for seven years running. We sell three TVs a second and we sell more TVs than the next three competitors combined and ship a million mobile devices a day," Eun said. "They are all connected to the internet, but they are not yet all connected with each other. The reason why I am excited is that once we connect these devices to each other we will have one of world's largest platforms for distributing content and ads."

With regards to advertising, Eun said: "In a world of connected devices advertising has to be one of the most exciting opportunities. The reason is that advertisers have more comfort and familiarity with where people are spending their time. What we haven't seen are newer ad products and experiences away from the 15-second cut of a 30-second ad on digital platforms. In a world where you have connected devices there are a whole range of different experiences where the lines between content and ads blur."

Eun gave the example of watching a golf tournament on television, simultaneously receiving more information about the event on a second screen, an ad to his smartphone, and a coupon or invite to access additional related content on another device.

"Content and services and ads should be integrated. The question is how much of that is scalable, how much will people experiment with it -- and if we can figure it out then the content owner and the advertiser and the consumer should win. We are trialing some things and the results are interesting."

Samsung will continue to build its own products internally, Eun said (it spent $9 billion on research and development last year), but Eun is also on the lookout for strategic acquisitions (for example, to create better user experiences on Samsung devices) as well more partnerships (like its recent alliance with Verizon FIOS to embed its TV app on Samsung smart TVs).

The Korean-American Eun joined the electronics giant in January of this year, but is already the company's key executive for understanding its strategy of moving from TVs and mobile phones to refrigerators and other consumer electronics.

Samsung smart TVs count more than 2,000 apps, a number Eun said will continue to grow, as will partnerships with content makers and service providers from Hollywood studios to Facebook.

"One of the places we have been talking to producers about is partnerships on 3D content," Eun said.

"There's a lot of momentum and expectation and investment at Samsung to get the hardware and software equation right," said Eun.

"It's no secret content and hardware and software have to be integrated," he added. "Regardless of where you come from you have to understand the relationship with the consumer. Since we already have more touchpoints with the consumer than any other company on the planet, there is a huge opportunity to try things out, to learn, and to form really deep bonds with consumers around the world."

Does this mean Samsung wants to create a vertically integrated hardware/content business like Apple?

"We want to be more of a platform than other companies," Eun said. "We are trying to invite people with great ideas and services to partner with us. We don't produce content and there are no plans to do that. Having worked at Time Warner and NBC, I appreciate the skill and art of content production and I also understand the intelligence around distribution. That role is much more aligned to where we see ourselves -- as a platform partner and distribution partner, aggregating content or delivering content direct to consumers -- not as a competitor to content providers."

Eun batted away an invitation to comment about the recent Apple lawsuit, but said that Samsung would continue to work with every company where it made business sense.