Samsung to divide into consumer and component divisions

Samsung announced today that it will split itself into two parts, with one new division to focus on consumer electronics items such as mobile phones and TVs and the other on semiconductors and LCDs.

The two new divisions will be led by executives with hefty experience in the two respective areas. Choi Gee-sun, now in charge of the new consumer products unit, headed up Samsung's mobile phone operations for the past two years.

During his tenure there, Samsung stepped past Motorola to become the world's second largest seller of mobile phones, trailing only Nokia. When Choi oversaw Samsung's television business before that, Samsung held the lead position in TVs worldwide.

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The new components unit -- to include items ranging from memory chips to displays -- will be led by Samsung CEO Lee Yoon-woo. Lee was an executive in Samsung's semiconductor arm until moving into the CEO role last May.

The division of the company into two pieces is also seen as placing a clear separation between Samsung's CE offerings and its components, which are sold to Samsung's competitors in addition to being used in its own consumer products.

In the face of the declining demand for electronic products that's accompanied the financial crisis, Samsung seems to be showing considerable innovation not just with the restructuring announced today but across both types of products in its line-up.

On the consumer electronics side, the company announced ultra-thin LED TVs, a wall mountable Blu-ray player, and a flash-based camcorder at CES 2009 in Las Vegas last week. Also there, Samsung showed two new types of ultra-large flat panel LCD displays, one suited to one suited to both ultra large TVs and 100-foot-wide billboards, and the other to outdoor viewing in broad daylight.

In the semiconductor space, Samsung last month defied the industry trend toward slowing down manufacturing by announcing plans to ramp up production of 4G WiMAX and LTE chips.

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