It's too soon to crack wise that Apple will design a self-driving car and Samsung will build it, but we're another step closer to that being a reality. The Korean conglomerate is launching a new division of its business that'll manufacture car components for other companies, beginning with in-car infotainment gear. According to the release, the eventual aim is to branch out into the components necessary to build autonomous vehicles for other companies. The move follows that of its local rival LG, which formed a vehicle components division in 2013 and is now gearing up to produce components for car companies.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Samsung's move into the automotive components business comes at a time when its smartphone arm is suffering. The company recently moved mobile chief JK Shin out of his office in favor of a younger, hipper replacement in the hope of reviving its flagging profits. Of course, that may turn out to be a fools errand, given that the mobile industry's boom years seem to be at an end.
On the upside, self-driving cars share more than a few components with smartphones, so it makes sense that Samsung's know-how would transfer across. Expertise in battery technology, GPS, mobile computing, wireless chips, touch screens and similar tech are all found in autonomous vehicles, so it should be fairly simple. In addition, by producing the components for other companies, there's a smaller element of risk than if it attempted to go it alone straight out of the gate.
Those with longer memories will also recall that Samsung used to actually make cars in the '90s, although the project was ill-fated. The company launched Samsung Motors in 1994, but by the time it had begun to produce vehicles, the 1997 Asian financial crisis forced it into a sale. The division was picked up by Renault, although Samsung maintains a 19.9 percent stake in the firm, as well as control over use of the name Samsung.