Samsung Electronics Co. is out to end yet another Japanese dominance.
After beating household names such as Sony Corp. and Panasonic Corp. in televisions, memory chips and mobile phones in the past decade, South Korea’s biggest company is targeting rivals including Canon Inc. in the $32-billion-a-year market for copiers. Its weapon: chips as powerful as those running Apple Inc.’s iPhone.
The new focus is a blow for Japan’s electronics industry, which suffers from falling prices, competition with Korean rivals and Apple’s iconic products that made Sony’s Walkman obsolete. Reeling from record losses, Japan’s companies are unable to hit back amid a strengthening yen. Samsung -- now Asia’s biggest consumer-electronics firm -- racked up more than $80 billion in cumulative profit in the past 10 years, emerging as the world’s biggest maker of phones, TVs and chips.
“Samsung has become the center of a storm,” said Tomoko Mitani, a Tokyo-based principal analyst at Gartner Inc., an industry researcher. “Japanese makers are very keen to know what their plans are and some of them have started paying attention.”
The plan is beginning to unfold in the market for copiers, including those with multiple functions such as scanning and faxing -- the barrel-sized machines that occupy office corners.
The company introduced new copiers and color laser printers built with a 1-gigahertz processor, the same amount of computing power that runs the iPhone 4S, the smartphone capable of multitasking. The equipment is the first to use chips of that speed with two processing cores, able to handle tasks faster than those with single cores, according to Samsung.
Samsung said its first color copier that uses A3-sized paper can print twice as fast as comparable models. The Suwon, South Korea-based company also combined several chips into one, based on the same technology integrating chips in mobile devices, to save costs and reduce defects.
The chips Samsung developed for copiers aren’t connected to intellectual property disputes with Apple. Cupertino, California-based Apple won more than $1 billion in damages on Aug. 24 after a U.S. jury found Samsung copied the iPhone. Samsung makes the processors used in iPhones and iPads.
The two companies have sued each other since April last year as they seek dominance in a global smartphone market valued at $219.1 billion by Bloomberg Industries last year.
Now, Samsung is aiming for the heart of a market where Tokyo-based Canon, Ricoh Co. and two other Japanese companies accounted for 49 percent of worldwide sales last year, according to Gartner. Samsung lagged behind them and Norwalk, Connecticut-based Xerox Corp. with a 3.4 percent share.