Samsung Chairman Lee Urges Focus on Innovation in Apple Battle

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Samsung Electronics Chairman, Lee Kun Lee, is aiming high for 2014: in an email to employees, he urges workers to adopt focus on innovation and move beyond hardware, as he wants to see the company leading industry trends, Bloomberg reports.

“We have to change once again,” Lee said today, according to e-mailed notes from the company. “We must give a bigger push for innovations, including in business structure, so that we can lead industry trends.”

In fact, Samsung had a great 2013: it shipped a record number of handsets, posted its highest quarterly earnings yet, but saw its revenue from outside its home market slipping, which pushed the company’s share price down as the new year kicked off, due to concerns over its slowing growth in high-end handsets and competition from Apple’s iPhones.

Chairman Lee says Samsung should create new businesses by integrating technologies from different industries, as the competition with Apple is fierce and its patent battle with the Cupertino company is stretching over four continents.

“Our leading businesses are constantly being chased by competitors, while time is running out for our less-competitive businesses,” said Lee, South Korea’s richest man. “Last year, we engaged in do-or-die battles with companies around the world and endured patent wars in light of market slowdown and prolonged, weak global economic growth.”

Looking back to last year, Samsung shipped nearly 29% of the world’s mobile phones in Q3, according to data published by Strategy Analytics. The company markets a wide variety of mobile phones priced between $150 and $900.

Looking forward, smartphone shipments will more than double by 2017, reaching 1.7 billion units, while the average price of handsets will drop to $265 from $337.