Samsung is taking a big step into the smart car market. The company has announced a deal to acquire Harman International Industries, a leading developer of connected car components.
The deal is valued at approximately $8 billion, and represents “a long-term growth strategy in automotive electronics,” according to a statement from Samsung. The company notes that about 65 percent of Harman’s $7 billion in sales over the past year were related to automotive parts, and that its order backlog as of June 30th was valued at about $24 billion.
With IT rivals like Apple also having explored smart car technologies in recent months and years, Samsung’s Harman acquisition signals the company’s intention of pulling ahead. And with car makers increasingly incorporating information technology into their vehicles, the smart car offers an area of growing overlap with respect to Samsung’s technological expertise; for example, Harman recently developed a system designed to monitor driver alertness based on pupil biometrics; while Samsung has itself been exploring iris biometrics for mobile authentication applications.
As Samsung Electronics President and Chief Strategy Officer Young Sohn explains, “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.”