Samsung Electronics Reorg: Apple’s Friends On One Side; Foes On The Other?

It looks like Samsung Electronics, the flagship and biggest division of the Samsung Group conglomerate, is restructuring its organisation. With a view to creating “independent operations”, the company is to divide its digital media business, including mobile devices and TVs and related services, from its device solutions business, which includes components like semiconductors.

The news was first reported by the Korea Herald, and we have contacted Samsung for more information about this direct from the company.

The article doesn’t give a huge amount of insight into why Samsung has enacted this restructuring, or whether there will be any job losses as a result of it, but it does note that one intention is to give more “power” to different divisions, such as semiconductors, to move quicker on business decisions.

One other consequence of the restructure could be that it puts up a greater Chinese wall between the division of the company that Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) counts as a key supplier (components for its devices) and the division that Apple views as an arch rival (the mobile device business — and potentially TVs too).

The two people sit at the top of the organisation as co-vice chairmen will each lead one of the divisions, according to the article. Kwon Oh-hyun, who was only appointed vice chairman last week, will oversee device solutions, including chips and other components; while Choi Gee-sung will oversee the digital media division.

As part of what Samsung calls its “two-top” management system, that digital media/communications division looks like it will have two leaders within it: Yoon Boo-keun, who had previously overseen the visual display business, will lead the consumer electronics business. Shin Jong-kyun, until now the mobile chief, will be in charge of information technology and mobile.

Just as the announcement today will give more autonomy to the semiconductor division, it could also be an attempt to focus more on how the company is innovating on its devices.

The announcements were made at the same time that Samsung officially named ex-Googler/AOLer David Eun as a new EVP overseeing its media strategy, which we reported on earlier.

Media and content are clearly areas where Samsung feels it needs to grow to better compete not only with Apple and its one-two-punch of devices and content, but also companies like Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and even HTC, which has made investments in media companies like Saffron Digital, OnLive and Beats Audio to beef up how it delivers content, to try to be seen as not just another Android OEM.

Samsung has made its own moves already into media services, with its own media hub that it launched in October 2010, its own app store for its bada feature devices and even special content services, such as the embedded music download service powered by 7digital. It’s not clear how much of an impact that music partnership has had for Samsung so far but it has proven to be a huge revenue driver for the music startup.

In keeping with the push into media and services, Samsung also said it would be establishing a new media solution center in Silicon Valley to build products aimed at better competing with Apple, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and others.