Finally, some good news for Samsung.
Putting the dead horse to rest, Samsung has caught a lot of flak recently and hasn't had anything to celebrate after a few heavy blows from the Note 7 blunder and a washing machine mishap. The South Korean tech giant has purchased the U.S. automotive tech conglomerate Harman for $112 a share in cash, totaling a cool $8 billion.
While this doesn't exactly blueprint a new division of Samsung vehicles, it does hint that the connected, driverless car industry –projected to reach $100 billion by 2025 – is ready to be taken seriously.
Samsung will leverage "expertise in connected mobility, semiconductors, user experience, displays and its global distribution channels" to maximize profit and technology growth for the 20 or so Harman brands such as JBL, AMX, Mark Levinson, Harman Kardon, AKG, and Bowers & Wilkins Auto.
The deal also celebrates nearly a decade since a Harman buyout in 2007. Harman was posed to sell to private-equity firms for the same $8 billion but eventually fizzled out leaving Harman in a financial tailspin. CEO Dinesh Paliwal has since turned the shaky company into a venture worth picking off by the likes of Samsung.
Recently, Harman has won big contracts with General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler for $24 billion, with a fiscal revenue of about $7 billion last year. The Samsung deal will hopefully solidify their growth as one of the comprehensive tier 1 audio manufacturers in the country, if not the world.
This is a confident push for Samsung who has been on a recent shopping spree, picking up a series of companies involved in IoT (SmartThings), mobile payments (LoopPay), cloud computing (Joyent), and AI (Viv Labs).
It also means, once again, Samsung will contend the likes of Apple and Google in a brand new arena. While saturation and options are always good for the consumer, I imagine Samsung has a proprietary interface planned for controlling their line of Harman products.
The deal makes me hopeful that the OEM car market will see a surge of innovation, provided Samsung makes good on their promise to share their technology. There is a good chance that the sleek stylings of something a Tesla head unit could start being an affordable option for the everyday consumer. Harman began as recently as CES 2016 showing an augmented reality that superimposes signs for road arrows or markers for points of interest.
Samsung also noted that Harman "will operate as a standalone Samsung subsidiary" under the helm of Paliwal, which is a sigh of relief considering Samsung could've started pushing engineers to work on monstrosities like this or slapping amp tubes in everything.