Samsung and LG: From Also-Rans to Dominance in Consumer Electronics

Myers, Robert

Today Samsung is the world leader in flat screen TV and cell phone sales. LG is second in TV sales, fifth in cellphones. Samsung fabricated its first LCD screen in 1995, well after such screens already dominated laptop computers, and had shipped its first cell phone only in 1988. LG wasn’t even founded until 1958 when it started its
development of the first Korean-made radios. By 1982 it shipped its first color TV – made in the USA. In this timeframe, not even twenty years ago, TV shipments were dominated by Japanese consumer manufacturers and cellphones were led by Motorola and Nokia. This paper explores possible sources of the secret to the Koreans’ success
and finds that the usual metrics – in particular patents, Rand D investment, and low cost labor – don’t explain it. We speculate that “industrial policy” measures of the South Korean government may have been decisive.

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Academic Units
Center on Japanese Economy and Business
Center on Japanese Economy and Business, Graduate School of Business, Columbia University
Center on Japanese Economy and Business Working Papers, 318
Published Here
April 24, 2013