If we ask you for an electronics brand off the top of your head, we’re sure that more than half of you will think of Samsung. Samsung has established its brand to be synonymous with our everyday electronics, from mobile phones to laptops to our home TVs.
In fact, Samsung is the world’s number one manufacturer of mobile phones and TVs, amongst many other milestones that put this multinational conglomerate at the front of the pack.
It’s difficult to imagine a world without Samsung products because they’re so ubiquitous and owned by everybody. We’ve used a Samsung phone, played with a Samsung Galaxy Tab, and watched a movie using a Samsung home theater. We’re big users of their products, but how much do we actually know about this South Korean tech titan?
Today, we are showing you Samsung but not in the way you know about the brand. Beyond the groundbreaking products and the big name, here are 7 things you need to know about this electronics superstar. From their humble beginnings as a noodle shop up to their total world domination.
#1 Samsung started out as a grocery store and a noodle shop.
It’s hard to think of Samsung as anything except as a leading electronics company, but it was many things before it became a multinational corporation. When it was founded in 1938 by Lee Byung-Chul, Samsung was first established as a store for trading and exporting goods. This included dried fish, flour, and vegetables, and Samsung even created their own noodles for export.
Through the years, Samsung went on to try its hand on different industries, like sugar refinery, textiles, and retail businesses. It wasn’t until decades later in 1969 when Samsung went into electronics to produce different home appliances like TVs, refrigerators, and air conditioners. This venture soon evolved to develop mobile devices and smartphones to become the Samsung Electronics we now know today.
#2 Samsung means “three stars” in Korean.
From the beginning, Lee Byung-chul already believed in his company to be something much bigger in the future. He named it Samsung (三星) which in traditional Hanja meant “three stars”, signifying his desire to create something powerful and eternal like the stars in the sky.
Interestingly, this three-stars motif can be seen in all of Samsung’s early logos, until the brand opted in 1993 for the minimalistic logo we are now familiar with today: a blue oval with the brand’s name in white letters. With the blue oval depicting the shape of our universe, the new starless logo still carried Samsung’s cosmic desire to achieve greatness in all of their endeavors.
#3 Samsung is so much larger than you think.
We know Samsung to be the world’s leading smartphone and TV manufacturer, but we’re greatly underestimating the brand if we only focus on their electronics segment. The early diversification of Samsung since its establishment jumpstarted the company’s interest in various industries ranging from construction to communications.
Aside from Samsung Electronics, over 60 different business affiliates and acquisitions make up the conglomerate Samsung Group. Some affiliates of interest include Samsung Heavy Industries (for shipbuilding), Samsung C&T Corporation (for construction and trading), Samsung Securities (for investment services), and Samsung Medical Center (for medical services). Samsung Everland even manages the Everland Resort, a prominent theme park in South Korea.
With its large and multi-industry scale, Samsung employs over 300,000 workers in 74 countries. Put to scale, this number is larger than the total of both Apple’s (137,000) and Microsoft’s (148,000) employees combined. Furthermore, Samsung dominates the economy of its home country, with the conglomerate’s businesses accounting for about 15% of the entire South Korean GDP. With that said, it’s definitely clear that Samsung is much more than just an electronics company.
#4 Samsung is everywhere — even in your iPhones.
If we haven’t driven the idea to the ground yet, here we show that Samsung’s brand is tied to a lot of products and services that it’s almost possible to live a whole life in Korea with only Samsung — from the delivery room up to the grave. You can be born at Samsung Medical Center, live in the Samsung Tower Palace, study at the Samsung-owned Sungkyunkwan University, and strictly use Samsung devices and home appliances.
Outside South Korea, Samsung is still a recognizable and omnipresent figure, even in places where we don’t expect to find the brand. Consider the Burj Khalifa skyscraper — the world’s tallest building — which was constructed by the Samsung C&T Corporation. Or the multitude of sports teams and competitions sponsored by Samsung Sports.
Samsung can even be found in your iPhones and other mobile devices. Many important phone parts, like the processor chips, RAM, and OLED screen, are outsourced by different smartphone companies from the leading manufacturer Samsung. So if you own any brand of smartphone, you’ll always be carrying a small part of Samsung in your hands.
#5 Samsung has a long list of industry firsts – from the first MP3 phone to the first foldable smartphone.
Being a pioneering and long-lasting figure in the smartphone industry, Samsung has brought innovation to the table before there was anything to innovate from. Some of Samsung’s earliest developments include the first CDMA cellular system in 1996; the first digital TV in 1998; and the first MP3 phone in 1999. Samsung was also the first to include a built-in 10MP camera to bring high-quality photography to the mobile phone.
Some of the more recent innovations include the first phones with a curved OLED display, as well as the first foldable smartphones. Some of these firsts were hits and some were misses, but Samsung needs to be commended for always thinking out of the box and striving for meaningful innovation.
#6 The Samsung E1100 feature phone is its top-selling phone ever (and the eighth of all time).
Samsung’s best selling phones are not one of the more recent, high-tech models like the Galaxy S20 Ultra or the Galaxy Note 10. It’s not even a smartphone. Instead, it’s the small and functional feature phone E1110 released in 2019.
Despite being released when it was well into the smartphone era, the E1110 still ended up selling upward of a whopping 150 million units until its discontinuance. This number made the E1110 the eighth best-selling phone of all time, behind Nokia’s beloved bar phones and the iPhone 6/6 Plus.
On the other hand, Samsung’s best selling smartphone is the Galaxy S4, an early S series liner that shipped over 80 million units ever since its release in 2013.
#7 Samsung had a chance to buy the Android OS before Google, but they declined.
Before being acquired by Google in 2005, Android was a startup company going around the global tech giants to look for funding, and one of their targeted companies was Samsung.
Engineer Andy Rubin and his small team flew to Seoul to pitch their software to the South Korean giant, but what they didn’t expect was to be met with a confused silence from the Samsung board and a resounding no.
This rejection was only two weeks before Android was bought by Google for a whopping $50 million. Now, Android is the best-selling OS for smartphones worldwide, with Samsung being the dominant player with a 65% share of all Android devices. So it all worked out in the end, but it’s curious to think about how different the smartphone landscape would be if Samsung bought the Android OS just for themselves.
What interesting fact about Samsung did we miss on our list? Let us know in the comment section below.