In the year since the Galaxy Note 7 debacle, Samsung has had to work hard to get its business back on track. However, thanks to devices like the Galaxy S8 and the recent Galaxy Note 8 along with thriving component sales, the company is now forecasting record profits, eclipsing even those of its biggest rival, Apple.
Samsung CEO Kwon Oh-hyun (Image: Samsung)
But just when it seemed things were peaking, Samsung must deal with another setback after CEO and vice chairman Kwon Oh-hyun announced that he is planning to step down from his role as CEO of Samsung and Samsung Display in March of 2018.
According to an email Kwon sent to the company last Friday, he said it was a decision he had been contemplating for a long time before adding, "As we are confronted with unprecedented crisis inside out, I believe that time has now come for the company start anew, with a new spirit and young leadership to better respond to challenges arising from the rapidly changing IT industry."
The line about being confronted with an unprecedented crisis seems to imply that the corruption scandal involving Samsung's former de-facto leader Lee Jae-Yong had a significant impact on Kwon's decision to resign. However, according to Reuters, he also stated that even though Samsung is currently enjoying record profits, "We are not able to even get close to finding new growth engines by reading future trends right now."
That last part could be the most troubling statement. A large part of Samsung's recent success stems from Kwon's leadership of Samsung's components and display business, which not only provides the screens, memory, and other components in its own devices, but also supplies parts to many of Samsung's biggest competitors, including the OLED display on Apple's iPhone X.
But with reports saying that both Apple and Google are investing hundreds of millions of dollars into LG's display division, Samsung's dominance in OLED display tech may not continue on for too much longer.
Kwon joined Samsung in 1985 at the company's Semiconductor Research Institute. He later become the President of the semiconductor division before becoming the CEO of Samsung in 2012 and the CEO of Samsung Display in 2016.