Samsung Declares Unicorn Apocalypse on Apple, BlackBerry

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2013-09-25

Samsung Declares Unicorn Apocalypse on Apple, BlackBerry

Samsung bought up eight commercial slots during the Sept. 22 Emmy Awards to tell the story of an imaginary game company readying its biggest new title, Unicorn Apocalypse. The staff is young and clever; Galaxy S III and Note 2 devices are brought in and shown off as superior to (and more secure than) the BlackBerry and Apple devices used by two less-than-awesome colleagues; and both working from home and on-screen group collaborations are made possible. Ultimately, the game is a success.

"Lebron just tweeted he's addicted to Unicorn Apocalypse!" says a staffer in the final installment, before Tim Burton shows up to discuss a movie option.

If Samsung's 6 minutes of airtime didn't make it clear, its Sept. 25 announcement does: It's going after enterprise customers in a major way (and letting the rainbow unicorn blood spill where it will).

With Samsung Solutions Exchange, the world's top-selling phone maker plans to do something "extremely unique," said Tim Wagner, vice president and general manager of Samsung's Mobile Enterprise Business Unit.

"If you think of all the things our devices can do, we have very unique, consumer-focused features," said Wagner. "Think of Exchange as a very unique and first-of-its kind engagement model that is completely focused on end customer engagement and success, and that leverages our ecosystem of solutions providers and end channels."

Samsung's approach to this is three-prong. First, said Wagner, you have to offer "highly desirable" products—a task that Samsung, given its sales figures, has clearly accomplished.

Second, those devices need to be secure. In 2012, the company introduced Samsung Approved for the Enterprise, or SAFE, with the Galaxy Note and then the Galaxy S III. SAFE includes on-device, 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, virtual private networks (VPNs) and mobile device management solutions (MDMs).

This February, Samsung also unveiled Knox, a container platform that separates business content from personal.

"With Knox and SAFE together, we have support for more than 460 IT policies. Our closest smartphone competitor," said Wagner, not acknowledging Apple by name, "has less than half what we have today. We've really gone above and beyond."

The third and final piece of Samsung's plan is to offer a holistic approach, providing value in a way that its competitors can't match.

The standard model for tech adoption in the enterprise has been for users to present a problem and IT to go look for a solution. During that looking process, device manufacturers have been at the mercy of all the other players involved, said Wagner.

"The model we're moving to is one where Samsung goes out and embraces the entire value chain," he explained. "Now, Samsung's sphere of influence will be over the IT department, line of business owners, software companies and the carriers."

Samsung Declares Unicorn Apocalypse on Apple, BlackBerry

Samsung wants to reach the Fortune 500 companies in the top 10 vertical markets—"Our goal is to touch each and every one of them"—and to offer a hands-on customized product to every carrier. It wants to make it easier for third parties to create software that complements its devices and their unique capabilities—Wagner offered the example of how a surgeon might benefit from Samsung's hands-free Air Touch technology on tablet—and it wants to search out and advance new technologies.

Exchange will launch with a portfolio of solutions that will include holistic vertical solutions for healthcare, financial services, government and retail, among other verticals; mobile professional solutions for addressing specific line-of-business challenges; and a variety of mobile workforce solutions for sales and service organizations.

Wagner, who was at BlackBerry before arriving at Samsung three years ago, says he now reports directly to the president of Samsung America. Offering a sense of the investment Samsung plans to make in Solutions Exchanges, without sharing exact figures, Wagner said that when he arrived, he had only "a few people" on his team.

"We grew, and in 2012 we doubled in size. In 2013 we doubled in size again, and in 2014 we'll be tripling the size of our team in the U.S. market."

Apple, with the iPhone, made inroads into the enterprise, displacing BlackBerry handsets and paving the way for Samsung. BlackBerry's current situation—it's now up for sale and may be split into pieces—certainly is convenient for Samsung.

"I will say the competitive landscape is such that it allows Samsung to accelerate its opportunity," said Wagner, again refusing to name names.

While Apple may not be as accommodating a rival as BlackBerry—Apple introduced a fingerprint reader on the new iPhone 5S, though within days of its release the technology was found to be vulnerable—neither is Samsung afraid of Apple, which it handily overtook in the consumer space.

"Historically, one of our competitors provides a single SDK and provides minimal support. We're not only going to go out and talk to partners to support our SDK, but help them to be successful in the various channels," said Wagner.

"It is that warm hug that will come from Samsung that will give our [independent software vendors] the support they need to be successful."

Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.

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