Samsung chief goes to jail, HTC is out of cash, and BlackBerry eyes licensing deals

by on 31/08/17 at 5:59 pm

Samsung chief goes to jail, HTC is out of cash, and BlackBerry eyes licensing deals

Samsung heir sentenced to 5 years in prison for bribery

 One of Samsung’s executives has been sentenced to five years in prison following a bribery scandal.

Lee Jae-yong, the heir to ownership of Samsung, has been sentenced to five years in prison following a bribery scandal involving Samsung and former South Korean President Park Geun-hye.


The New York Times reports that Lee and four other Samsung executives paid $6.4 million in bribes to the Park administration. The Samsung conglomerate controls one-fifth of the South Korean economy and a large portion of its gross domestic product, and the bribes were designed to secure political backing for a merger between Samsung C&T Corp and Cheil Industries Inc. The Samsung scandal contributed to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.

Judge Kim Jin-dong, who sentenced Park, said:

The essence of this case is the unethical bond between politics and money. The people expect that the power of a president, the top authority under the Constitution, will be used to serve all people and that big businesses act with social responsibility, through legal economic activities. Through this case, the people have come to question the fairness and honesty of the president and have come to distrust the ethical values of Samsung, the largest conglomerate.

While we’re most familiar with Samsung’s electronics division, which is responsible for its smartphones and TV’s (and much of its profit), Samsung Group has a wide variety of companies in it, including those involved in construction, South Korean national defense, display production, processor production, storage production, medical services, and financial services. It is unclear at this time what the sentencing could mean for the future of the Samsung Group.

Another charge Lee was found guilty of was hiding assets overseas and falsely testifying during his hearing on the scandal.

HTC unsurprisingly considering strategic investments, spin-offs amidst lengthy financial struggles

 We already know HTC’s finances aren’t great.

Despite recent successes with Vive and more recently the much-loved U11, HTC is still facing financial difficulties as its revenues have continued to fall for several years. According to sources of Bloomberg, HTC has reached the point of considering strategic business changes including sales or spin-offs of portions of the company.

HTC U Play and U Ultra

HTC is said to have been working with and advisor to work on several different options for improving its financial position, which should come as little surprise to those following the mobile industry. An outright sale of the entire company is the least likely option due its size and relatively small potential market of buyers. A more likely result to these new discussions would be finding a strategic investment partner or spinning out various parts of the business to capitalize on their success (in the case of Vive) or cut dead weight (in the form of perhaps manufacturing facilities or other large assets).

HTC isn’t going away, but the backend of its business operations has to change to keep going.

The steady march of Samsung reaching the point of taking in a vast majority of worldwide profits from Android phone sales has hurt a lot of companies, but HTC has been put in a particularly precarious position. Over the past five years or so HTC has continued to give up market share on both the high-end to Samsung and also on the low-end to the likes of Huawei, Oppo and Motorola. At the same time, HTC continued to hold onto many vestiges of when it was one of the “big” manufacturers, with a large product portfolio, thousands upon thousands of employees and many large assets. In an essence, it just hasn’t been nimble enough.

Exploring new avenues for the future operation of HTC doesn’t necessarily mean the company is going away in terms of what we know and love about it. HTC is, after all, still valued at nearly $2 billion. But this surely means that there are changes to the back-end of the business in the works that could slim down the company and keep it around for some time coming.

BlackBerry may begin licensing its Android software to other manufacturers

By Tom Westrick

 BlackBerry is devising a new way to make some much-needed cash.

BlackBerry has been on a bit of a resurgence, at least in mindshare, since releasing its first Android phone. It hasn’t exactly turned the company’s financials around, and it has since licensed its named to TCL in order to shed the cost of developing hardware. That arrangement has TCL design and build the hardware, while BlackBerry maintains the software. It’s a good arrangement.


Soon, BlackBerry may have that arrangement with other companies. The Economic Times reports that BlackBerry is in talks with various (unnamed) smartphone manufacturers to license its “BlackBerry Secure” OS — built on top of Android and including the Google Play Store. BlackBerry phones have consistently received monthly security updates at the beginning of each month, but they lag on feature updates for a long time. In addition to smartphones, BlackBerry is also looking towards building an operating system for televisions, wearables and medical devices, as well as Internet-of-Things (IOT) devices as a whole. The arrangement sounds similar to Cyanogen’s initial business plan, but hopefully, this would end with better results.

This arrangement makes a lot of sense for BlackBerry, which desperately needs the revenue.

On paper, an arrangement like this would make a lot of sense for BlackBerry. As Microsoft has proven, there is an awful lot of money in software licensing, with very few costs and risks compared to hardware development. BlackBerry already has a similar arrangement for its QNX-based software. QNX has low hardware requirements compared to other operating systems, making it suited for infotainment systems and other embedded systems that typically use older hardware. BlackBerry builds and manages the lower parts of the operating system, while vendors control the user interface. This gives vendors a distinct brand identity while also making sure the system is viable and secure. When we get robust theming control built-in to Android, it’s not hard to manage a similar arrangement could work for smartphones that use Blackberry Secure.

BlackBerry has talked about licensing its operating systems before, back when its hardware ran BlackBerry 10. Now that its phones run Android, the risks are much lower.

Would you be interested if your favorite smartphone ran Blackberry Secure? Let us know down below!


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