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Samsung’s Mobile Moment of Truth

This week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas often felt like the Samsung Electronics Show.

The world’s largest consumer electronics company showed off a giant television, a slew of “Internet of Things” connected devices and an oven that cooks two dishes at once. (Don’t all ovens do that?)

But the spectacle was all a sideshow for what really matters for the hardware company. That is how it plans to remain relevant in the area of technology that will end up controlling these futuristic connected devices: smartphones.

While still the leading player, Samsung is seeing Apple, Huawei, Xiaomi and Micromax eat into its business. To regain its edge, more management shakeups and acquisitions or partnerships remain likely.

Most at risk is Samsung’s mobile chief J.K. Shin. While he survived a management shakeup at the end of last year, people who work at the company say he may only have one more chance to prove he can stabilize the business. He will fire that shot in the spring with the launch of the latest version of Samsung’s Galaxy phones, the hotly anticipated S6.

He’s relying on a reshuffled team, with executives like D.J. Koh stepping in for former deputies like D.J. Lee, who was transferred. (Here is a still-relevant roster of key players in Samsung’s mobile group.) 

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“It is very much a waiting game,” Mr. Mawston said. “It is a game of poker, and Samsung needs to hold its ground amid attack.”

Jessica E. Lessin commented on this article.
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“It is a game of poker, and Samsung needs to hold its ground amid attack.”