Samsung names Roh Tae-moon as smartphone chief to take on Huawei

Samsung on Monday named Roh Tae-moon, its youngest president, as its new smartphone chief as the South Korean firm seeks to defend its lead in the mobile phone business from challenges from rivals such as Huawei Technologies.
Samsung Galaxy A8+ in India
The South Korean firm also promoted the head of its network equipment business, which analysts said got a lift from a U.S. campaign to convince allies to bar Huawei Technologies from their networks.

Samsung Electronics took an early lead in 5G smartphones, but Huawei is widely expected to boost sales of 5G-capable smartphones and equipment this year, leveraging its huge home market in China.

“Samsung’s reshuffle seems aimed at coping with a potential major market change with the new technology,” said analyst Tom Kang at Counterpoint. “The young executive is known to be decisive and so is likely to respond swiftly to that change to defend Samsung’s lead from Huawei.”

Samsung has 21 percent market share in the global smartphone business in the third quarter, but Huawei closed in with 18 percent, showed the latest data from Counterpoint. That came even as Huawei in May was banned from doing business with most U.S. firms, preventing its access to technology like Alphabet’s Android.

Samsung appointed Roh Tae-moon, currently its youngest-ever president at 51, as mobile chief as part of a reshuffle that came later than usual amid a series of court cases involving some of its top executives including leader Jay. Y Lee.

Roh was instrumental is Samsung’s shift to outsource more handset production to cut costs and better compete with lower-priced Chinese smartphone makers such as Huawei, Reuters reported.

Roh, as former mobile development head, led development of Samsung’s Galaxy mobile devices, and is tasked with re-invigorating the organization at a time of heated smartphone competition, the South Korean company said in a statement.

Samsung’s network business chief Cheun Kyung-whoon, who was involved in the world’s first commercialization of 5G services in South Korea, was promoted to president to help turn networking into a major business for the firm, Samsung said.

Samsung, a laggard in the telecom network equipment market, has been pouring resources into the business, aiming to capitalize on the security fears hobbling market leader Huawei.

Huawei has been bogged down denying allegations by the United States that the Chinese state could use its equipment for spying and so should not be used in 5G networks.

Samsung, the world’s biggest smartphone maker and memory chip maker, also kept its three co-chief executives in the annual review, a move highlighting stability ahead of a ruling on a bribery case involving its leader Lee.

DJ Koh, former mobile chief and co-chief executive, will continue to lead Samsung’s IT & mobile communications (IM) division, which oversees both mobile devices and network equipment.