Someone among Samsung's top ranks was expected to take the hit for plummeting smartphone sales. Signs pointed to the head of the mobile division, one of the Korean conglomerate's three central global business units. Instead, it looks to be the head of marketing.
The Wall Street Journal reported on the executive changes over the weekend: "Samsung Electronics' mobile business head, J.K. Shin, the chief of the company's consumer electronics unit, B.K. Yoon, and the current chief executive for the component business, Kwon Oh-hyun, will all maintain their positions, Samsung said. But D.J. Lee, one of Mr. Shin's top lieutenants as president and head of sales and marketing at the company's mobile unit, is leaving his current position, people familiar with the matter said Monday, taking responsibility for lackluster smartphone sales. It wasn't immediately clear who would replace Mr. Lee. When contacted by phone, Mr. Lee declined to comment."
Samsung did confirm another management shift, according to the Wall Street Journal. Hong Won-pyo, head of the Media Solutions Center, the company's software and services hub, is now charged with leading the global marketing strategy office, based in Korea. The move triggers further ambiguity about Samsung's software strategy, which has been lackluster and cited as a reason for its smartphone collapse. Operating profits for mobile fell 60% last quarter.
The executive changes have not hit the U.S. business. Already, Samsung has revamped its U.S. team, folding it into a single division and shifting its marketing from Dallas to New York. It is still searching for an executive to lead media buying and planning. According to the Wall Street Journal, sales of Samsung's latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S5, fell short of the prior model in every market but the U.S.
A Samsung spokeswoman did not immediately return a request for comment.