Samsung Receives New Mobile Chief To Reverse Downward Trending Smartphone Sales, Earnings

Samsung is hoping that its mobile division will benefit from a change of guard as the South Korean outfit struggles to reinvigorate its smartphone line. As such, former mobile boss J.K. Shin is handing over day-to-day operations to D.J. Koh, one of Mr. Shin's top men who led Samsung's mobile research and development efforts.

The shakeup in roles and duties doesn't come as much of a surprise. Mr. Shin narrowly avoided the axe around this time last year when Samsung opted instead to give pink slips to three other high-level executives. The company wasn't happy with sales of its Galaxy S5, which had sold just 12 million units during its free three months on the market, around 4 million less than the Galaxy S4 when it debuted.


At the time, Samsung's communications chief, Lee June, said Mr. Shin would "have another chance to reinvigorate the mobile business in a new business environment." He also noted Mr. Shin's "significant contributions in helping Samsung" become a mobile force up to that point. Given Mr. Shin's prior success, Samsung was reluctant to place the blame for his division's performance squarely on his shoulders.

Now a year later, Samsung's patience has run out. While Mr. Shin was able to renew interest in its Galaxy devices by switching to a premium design and introducing a curved screen model in the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, he misjudged the demand for the latter and produced to few units. The sought after smartphone also suffered from production problems.

The final straw was the 38 percent decline in mobile profit during the quarter the new Galaxy phones were released. As a result, Samsung posted a loss for the year.

Now it's up to Mr. Koh to turn things around. Prior to stepping into this new role, Mr. Koh oversaw the development of Tizen, which is Samsung's home grown OS, and Samsung Pay, the company's mobile payment system.