In its biggest-ever overseas purchase, Samsung bought automotive tech company Harman International Industries for a massive $8 billion.
Samsung referred to automotive electronics as a “strategic priority” going forward, which — as with its current positioning in the smartphone industry — makes the Korean company a major rival or resource for Cupertino as it continues its own investigations into a possible Apple Car.
“The vehicle of tomorrow will be transformed by smart technology and connectivity in the same way that simple feature phones have become sophisticated smart devices over the past decade,” Young Sohn, Samsung’s president and chief strategy officer, said in a statement.
Samsung previously invested in Chinese automaker BYD. However, the investment in Harman is significantly bigger for Samsung, given that its technology is currently used in more than 30 million cars around the world.
It comes at a time when Samsung’s mobile profits, dented by the Note 7 debacle, are falling. For Samsung, focusing on new revenue streams is suddenly super-important.
The Harman deal is expected to be completed by the middle of 2017. Current CEO Dinesh Paliwal will continue running the company.
While Samsung is busy investing in the car industry, however, recent reports suggest that Apple’s own automotive work may be stalling.
Hundreds of members of Apple’s so-called Project Titan team — which at one point numbered 1,000 people — are said to have been reassigned, either to other divisions or out of Apple altogether.
Apple seems to be reconsidering its original plan to build a self-driving electric car that could recognize drivers by their Touch ID fingerprint. At this point, Apple is reportedly deciding whether to continue investing in its automotive industry investigations or go in another direction entirely.