Roh Tae-moon to head up Samsung's smartphone arm amid company shakeup

Cal Jeffrey

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Samsung has just moved Roh Tae-moon to the head of its smartphone division. At age 51, Roh has become the youngest CEO in the company’s history. Roh will be filling the shoes of former mobile chief Koh Dong-Jin (aka DJ Koh) effective immediately.

Roh has been with Samsung since 1997, leading the engineering and designing of the Galaxy line of products. The company is hoping some new blood will bolster its edge against stiffer competition from Chinese manufacturers Huawei and Xiaomi.

Reuters notes, Roh promoted a move to outsource more of Samsung’s smartphone production to lower costs and position itself to better compete with the lower-priced phones coming out of China.

The move is more of an internal reshuffle than an outright replacement of its head. DJ Koh will not be leaving, but instead will now oversee the company’s IT and mobile communications division.

Under Koh’s watch, Samsung suffered two major calamities with the Galaxy Note 7 recall in 2016 and the stumbling launch of the Galaxy Fold last year. The exploding Note 7 debacle resulted in severe losses in Q3 2016, totaling nearly $2 billion.

Problems with the Galaxy Fold just before launch led to a significant delay in the device’s release as well as a PR nightmare that had executives playing the blame game and making misstatements about the Fold’s readiness and sales. However, Koh is not entirely to blame for the shakeup within the company.

In 2017, Samsungs vice-chairman Lee Jae-yong was involved in a bribery scandal. Lee was convicted on corruption charges and sentenced to a five-year prison term. An appeal granted Lee a suspended sentence, but Korea’s highest court overturned that ruling.

Whether moving Roh to the head of the smartphone division will quell internal turmoil remains to be seen. Still, Samsung hopes he can help them expand in the China and India markets, which are dominated by Huawei and Xiaomi, respectively.

Image credit: Sung Yoon Jo via Shutterstock; Graph credit: Counterpoint Research

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Samsung’s mobile division has been costing the company money and for some time. You have to wonder if this is a last chance . . .