Apple 2.0

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'A sense of crisis' at Samsung

April 8, 2013: 7:31 AM ET

Rumors of a pending shakeup after chairman Lee's three-month trip to Japan and Hawaii.

Lee at his return. Photo: Korea Times

Lee at the airport. Photo: Korea Times

FORTUNE -- "Change everything but your wife and children," Samsung chairman Lee Kun-Hee famously said 20 years ago when he announced the new management initiative that launched Samsung's entry into batteries, silicon chips and, eventually, display panels and smartphones.

Change often follows Lee's long overseas trips. Immediately after a 2010 voyage he shifted the company into emergency mode, cut executive paychecks and overseas travel, and announced that most of Samsung's existing products would be gone in 10 years.

So there was considerable anticipation, the Korea Times reports, when he returned Saturday from a three-month sojourn in Japan and Hawaii.

"You should always have a sense of crisis. You should run faster and always study to have insights," Lee told the more than four dozen media outlets that met him at the airport in hopes that he might offer a hint of what Samsung has in store.

Among the issues Lee is expected to address on his return, according to the Korea Times' chief Samsung watcher, Kim Yoo-Chul, are the ongoing patent disputes with Apple (AAPL), Samsung's future investments and how to reduce the company's reliance on its mobile business.

The day before Lee's return, Samsung announced that it expected first quarter profits to be up 53% year over year, fueled largely by smartphone sales.

The Korea Times report: Shakeup at Samsung?

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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