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Samsung’s Line of Succession: Lee Jae Yong

August 29, 2014 - Written By Phil Bourget

Samsung Electronics Co. is one of the pioneers in modern smartphone design, and one of the giants currently traipsing across the global smartphone market, taking smaller steps as time passes.  But the chairman, Lee Kun Hee, is ill, and has been hospitalized since a heart attack in May of this year.  He is 72, and has led the company from grassroots to king of technology in many minds.

Those folks online and in life that believe that Samsung is a king, a ruling and superior company, that makes the best products, are not far off of the real life of Samsung employees, and in fact fall short in the seriousness of the matter and its implications.  Samsung employees follow Samsung like it were a religion, and the now-ill Chairman Hee is the God, praised by the followers.  Korean culture puts much honor and prestige in power, and that is very much respected by the employees of Samsung.

The reality of the situation with Chairman Hee falling ill and getting on in years is that his son, Lee Jae Yong, will be his successor.  Hee’s son has been around Samsung for many years, and looks to be almost ready to take the throne and position as the God of Samsung.  The company has been led by Chairman Hee’s hand and mind, and Vice Chairman Yong will do much the same, but also much different.

One thing we know about Samsung is that, under Chairman Hee, the products, specifically Android for the sake of subject matter, have been one way, then change completely and are all another way.  Such is seen in Samsung plain square black plastic devices before the Galaxy S III, and the whole product line, all of them, switched to the gloss plastic roundness.  Then, at the announcement of the Galaxy Note III, many devices adopted the fake stitched back edges, and so came the Galaxy S5’s spotted spine, and likely will come the next evolution.  The company has s strong presence, and the Chairman-to-be will have a legacy to live up to, and a future to solidify as the head of the king company of South Korea.

Not only does Yong have the leadership of a great and powerful company to gain, but he also has the entire mobile industry to lose, being a new leader in an old company.  Yong, as large as his prestige is, is not often seen and hasn’t been interviewed on the matter of his new role.  But as Android users and Microsoft users (for those with the Ativ family of devices of yesteryear), where do you think that Yong will lead Samsung to?  A new spot on the crown of the mobile industry, or the tarnished spot on the lost necklace of a dead prince?  What changes do you hope to see from the leadership of Chairman Hee’s heir?  Let us know.