Maybe it's still early enough in the new year to think about starting fresh. Or maybe companies are seriously considering which operational areas work best and which don't. Or maybe they are launching in or expanding in other product segments to shake off the economic malaise from the last few years.
Whatever the reason, it seems some of the industry's more well known high-tech brands are taking interesting steps forward or testing out new corporate directions, either to supplement existing portfolios or to branch out into promising markets. Take a look at some of the news from the last few days about Samsung, Philips, and BlackBerry (formerly Research in Motion), and you might see a trend.
Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC), which in the last few years has hung its hat on being one of the world's biggest smartphone providers and for going head-to-head with Apple for winning widespread consumer love, is now looking to build its clout in medical devices.
The company's US-based affiliate, Samsung Electronics America Inc., recently announced that it acquired medical imaging company NeuroLogica, known for its portable computed tomography scanners.
The acquisition supports the company's 2020 vision of becoming a world leader in the medical technology business and "to explore new avenues of growth in the healthcare business by enhancing medical imaging diagnosis, providing innovation to both patients and doctors," according to a statement. As TechCrunch reported, Samsung has made several acquisitions and moves in this space for the last couple of years.
Royal Philips Electronics N.V. (NYSE: PHG; Amsterdam: PHI) , another major electronics OEM, is going in a slightly different direction, shedding once-core units in the wake of organizational restructuring and a quarterly net loss. Following other companies like Siemens and Alcatel-Lucent, which also exited the consumer electronics market, Philips recently sold its audio, video, multimedia, and accessories business to Japan’s Funai Electric for about $201.8 million in cash and a brand-license fee, according to The Wall Street Journal. The sale will let the company focus on its now core medical and lighting sectors.
"With this transaction we are taking another step in reshaping the Consumer Lifestyle portfolio and transforming Philips into the leading technology company in Health and Well-being," said Philips Chief Executive Officer Frans van Houten in a statement.
And BlackBerry (Nasdaq: RIMM; Toronto: RIM), which has had more than its share of troubles in the last few quarters, at last unveiled a line of smartphones it hopes will restore some of its reputation in the industry. The long-delayed BlackBerry 10 devices, planned to launch last year, will finally start selling in March, a delay that disappointed investors, according to reports. To boot, the company is also formally changing its name to match its brand -- it's now the company previously known as RIM. Whether or not the company will be able to stack up against powerhouses Apple and Samsung almost doesn't matter at this point. The point, on some level, I suppose, is that it's still trying, and that's worth something, right?
The winds of change seem to be kicking up in different pockets of the high-tech world. We'll see if it hurls them onto more stable ground, brings them into potentially lucrative and growing sectors, or leaves them wondering why they spun themselves in this direction.