Earlier this week, Samsung shocked the industry by announcing that they were purchasing Harman International Industries for a cool $8 Billion. Large acquisitions of this kind appear to be something of a recurring theme in the tech world throughout 2016, so perhaps it’s no surprise to see that Samsung is ending the year on a big deal of this kind. Something that surprised the industry more than the price, however, was what Samsung was purchasing Harman for, and that was the automotive side of things. According to the original press release from Samsung this week, the South Korean giant has agreed to purchase Harman because “joining forces is a natural extension of the automotive strategy we have been pursuing for some time”. Of course, Harman is much, much more than just car stereos and systems.
Harman owns high-end audio brands that are used in the recording and performance industry as well as high-end personal audio such as AKG, JBL, Harman/Kardon and Infinity. These brands themselves were acquired by Harman throughout the decades, and for the most part operate on their own, as if they were their own brands, rather than a part of something larger. This is a business strategy that Samsung is going to keep once then finalize the deal owning the whole Harman umbrella and have said that “we plan to retain all of Harman’s consumer and professional audio brands”. In terms of personal audio, Samsung themselves develop and produce a number of their own products, including surround sound systems, Bluetooth speakers and headphones under the Level brand and some pretty high-end stuff such as the Samsung R7 Omnidirectional speaker.
Of course, these brands are much more than just headphones and Bluetooth speakers. Brands such as AKG give them access to a whole new world of professional audio through microphones and recording equipment used in studios, and brands like JBL give them high-end HiFi and speakers used in events venues and such. Should the deal go ahead, Samsung would find itself in control of a plethora of different audio brands, and could help them achieve some very enviably results in their smartphones and consumer products should they leverage this huge amount of experience and expertise they’d be in control of.