Samsung Just Dropped $8B to Take You for a Drive

Eye on smart cars, electronics behemoth made biggest buy ever with Harman
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2016 3:51 PM CST
Samsung's Biggest Deal Ever Is All About Cars
In this 2013 file photo, a man with a mobile phone walks by the Samsung Electronics logos at its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

Samsung is making an unlikely and uncharacteristic acquisition, and apparently it figured it had better go big or go home: The South Korean electronics giant on Monday dropped $8 billion on Harman International, a Connecticut-based audio pioneer known for car stereos that has, as the Wall Street Journal reports, sunk its teeth deeply into the automotive industry as our cars have grown ever smarter. It's a bold move for Samsung, and signals that the electronics giant is betting heavily on providing the "smart" in "smart cars;" the AP notes that the acquisition "will instantly transform (Samsung) into a major player for auto infotainment, software, and connected car technology."

“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," a Samsung exec said in a release, per the New York Times. The deal also sets Samsung up to go head-to-head with a couple of familiar rivals—namely Apple and Google—both of which have been working on self-driving cars. Not that you'll likely catch Samsung making actual cars, sources tell the Journal, but executives see a huge market emerging for products they already manufacture, ranging from semiconductors and display screens to mobile services. (Samsung might be looking to deflect some attention from its exploding phones or vibrating washing machines.)

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