The perfect partnership

Apple pie and ice cream, fish and chips, peanut butter and jam – so many things just fit with each other. The best example may be the co-dependent relationship of hardware and software. These two sides of technology are continually bound together. ComputerWorld Canada department editor Victoria Berry recently spoke with JS Rho, president of Samsung Canada and Matthew Ki, Digital IT Marketing Manager at Samsung Canada in Mississauga, Ont., about the building of this relationship.

CWC: Where does Samsung Canada see the relationship between hardware and software heading?

Rho: It’s quite obvious, not only with Samsung, but we believe globally that the industry, along with the technology, is converging. We want to change Samsung’s outlook to reflect this trend, this convergence, so we fully believe in convergence in our products. We have created a camcorder that you hook up to your computer. Convergence is the key word though. We really believe that this is not only a trend for the channel, but for every aspect.

CWC: How do you incorporate your partnership strategy into this convergence strategy?

Rho: We are continually building our partner program. It falls in line with convergence. We want to integrate and offer customers the chance to bring our products in line with other pieces to form a solution. So yes, we want to sell the solution, but we know we have to focus on some products and partner for others.

CWC: Where will this trend take us?

Rho: I never know what the future will hold in this industry, but I see a continuance of convergence of devices and appliances. Technology can make our lives easier, we have to let it and discover what people really want. Do they want their fridge to order their groceries? I don’t know – but we will look into it.

CWC: How does the Canadian customer differ from others?

Rho: I believe the average market in Canada has customers who know what they need. Canadians have a lot of understanding of technology. Canadians produce very sophisticated technology. We have to look at what Canadians are building what they are asking for. We have to investigate that to discover their needs. Whether they are optimistic or pessimistic, customers know what they want – they have something in mind that will fix their problems, but it’s up to the vendors to investigate and discover what that is and how to build it.

Ki: All consumers have different priorities – quality, performance, reliability, design, aesthetics, price, value, longevity. Everybody has their priorities. We try to understand the qualities that belong to the Canadian customer. Which is more important to them? Technology is becoming global. It’s not a matter of equality, or what is closest at hand. What we do is analyze the need and try to predict what people will need next.

Rho: Canadian customers do differ from other customers in terms of what they want. For instance the United States is often concerned with price. When it comes to Canadian customers, they prioritize value. We have to follow what they are doing, and buying.

CWC: What is holding Samsung Canada back from joining the wireless fray in North America?

Ki: The biggest challenge for wireless development in Canada has to do with infrastructures. Most other regions in the world have unified systems – either GSM, CDMA, TDMA. Here in North America we have all the standards. The backbone for the wireless industry is a mash of different regions where a certain standard is predominant. What we’re seeing is because North America is a highly competitive marketplace, everything is open for competition. Samsung’s role in this aspect, is that because we are worldwide we support all the standards. But when it comes to Canada, we cannot focus in on one standard. So at this point no one is really able to captivate the market with one specific product.

Rho: You need the different products to reach the consumers. Until which time as we basically get our act together and decide which way to go, we can’t focus in and push one aspect. The market doesn’t want that right now. We are still spread out, in terms of standards. There is no dominant player in Canada. And there is no move to one right now.

CWC: Do you feel you have to compete with the glamour of software?

Rho: Can software work without hardware? Can hardware work without software? At Samsung we make sure to partner the two. We know that to offer the whole solution, we have to bring software and hardware together. Our mission is to bring the whole solution together. It’s not hardware or software anymore.

Ki: if you look at technology 20 years ago, you had television with a dial, now we have a remote control, satellite dishes. In essence you see software is in a sense a benefit – but you can’t have the benefit without the hardware. Our products have software functions. There is software in them.