We got a chance to sit down with Samsung Mobile’s VP and General Manager Tim Wagner. Wagner spent four years at RIM/Blackberry before joining Samsung Mobile (Samsung Telecommunications USA) in December of 2010. Prior to RIM/Blackberry Wagner was working for a company that was acquired by RIM in 2006.
Moving from RIM to Samsung
In Wagner’s keynote on Tuesday at the ITExpo East in Miami he touched on the fact that he has a hard time with separating work/life, like many of us in the tech industry. When we started our conversation today I asked Tim about the cultural difference in working with Canadian Based RIM and S. Korea based Samsung.
Much more after the break
Wagner said that there is definitely a big cultural difference. In S. Korea they have a strong, almost militant work ethic however the minute the work day ends they cut loose. I’ve actually experienced this traveling at various times with Samsung.
One really interesting thing about Samsung’s presence in their home country of South Korea, that Wagner pointed out, was that Samsung needed to change their branding on their televisions to make them stand out more because Samsung is such a household name.
Wagner wouldn’t get into RIM or Blackberry much. He’s of course still tied to confidentiality agreements with RIM and it’s Samsung’s policy not to speak about their competition. One of Wagner’s main focuses with Samsung Mobile is enterprise and he did admit that he does have a bit of a competitive edge coming from RIM/Blackberry which was a fixture in the world of IT professionals up until about 2009.
Wagner talked to me about how different it was to be working for a company with such a robust portfolio of products. He told me a story about a friend of his who brought up the fact that not only does this friend have a Samsung phone, but a Samsung television, Samsung washing machine etc.
The same goes for enterprise products as well. Samsung makes mobile phones, smartphones, laptops, tablets, monitors and several other business products. Right now an enterprise client may talk to a Samsung Mobile sales person for their mobile phone and tablet needs but would see a Samsung Electronics person for computers, and monitors. As Wagner and his team continue to roll out the Samsung Approved for Enterprise (SAFE) program it will branch out from mobile to cover some of the other enterprise/business products Samsung offers.
Wagner is hopeful that in the future on the enterprise side, one sales person could work with enterprise clients to fill all their Samsung needs.
With enterprise being one of Wagner and Samsung Mobile’s main focal points he was very excited to talk about SAFE.
SAFE stands for Samsung Approved For Enterprise. What it means is that when a Samsung Mobile product carriers the “SAFE” branding, it’s approved for deeper security, encryption, and privacy. Wagner visited with a Fortune 50 company while in Miami and when he arrived for this meeting he was met by the company saying “Only talk to me about SAFE products”. Which basically means that the SAFE program is taking off and becoming a recognized part of Samsung.
Right now SAFE is only available in the United States but Wagner is headed to Samsung’s S. Korean headquarters this Sunday where expanding SAFE globally will be part of the discussion. SAFE in it’s current state covers a handful of phones across all four carriers. The Samsung Galaxy S II, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Tab and even the Samsung Stratosphere are considered SAFE.
Wagner wouldn’t say which carrier but Samsung is working with one of the major US carriers to put the “SAFE” logo on the boxes of SAFE phones.
Wagner is finding that a lot of IT professionals use Android as their personal phone but have concerns about implementing Android devices in the enterprise because of security and privacy risks. SAFE addresses those risks. Also as a lot of companies are migrating to BYOD (bring your own device) models, having devices with enhanced feature sets for enterprise, and a available to consumers means that the consumer (or in this case prosumer) knows which Samsung phones are ready for enterprise.
Of course Wagner is very excited about the Samsung Galaxy Note. The Galaxy Note launches for pre-order Sunday with a 90 second commercial in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.
The Galaxy Note merges the tablet and phone into one device. Wagner feels that the Galaxy Note is a game changer.
I asked him about Samsung’s Super Bowl advertising strategy. I of course pointed out that this will be the third year in a row that an Android device was featured in the Super Bowl, the previous two times weren’t very successful. One of the reasons Motorola wasn’t successful with their Super Bowl campaign was there was no follow up message. Wagner couldn’t comment on their entire strategy but says Samsung plans to make this a featured device for a while.
I also pointed out to Wagner that the Samsung Galaxy Note was a device that Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, was made for. It’s a hybrid tablet/phone and ICS is a hybrid, tablet/phone operating system. He referred me back to a statement that Samsung made back in December about ICS which basically boils down to YES the Galaxy Note will get Ice Cream Sandwich, and as soon as possible.
Wagner tipped us to the fact that there will be some big Samsung enterprise news in the coming weeks (but not at MWC), we are looking forward to that news.