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Ahn Young-joon / AP

When people think of Samsung, they think more about specific pieces of hardware than they do about a platform with a thriving developer ecosystem. But, the Korean electronics giant would very much like to change that and hopes that today's Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco marks a turning point.

Samsung mobile chief DJ Koh sat down with Login on Tuesday to talk about the company's work to unify its far-flung divisions, its relationship with Google and how the company has moved forward from the disastrous Galaxy Note 7 scandal.

The bottom line: The company is the dominant player in Android and a force in appliances and home electronics, but has a ways to go to be seen as a serious player in software and AI. Its initial efforts with Bixby got off to a slow start amid delays.

Here are some highlights from the conversation:

On Samsung:

  • Koh said Samsung Electronics different divisions are finally collaborating strategically and the relationship is the closest is has been in his 33 years at the company.
  • "There is clearly a firewall between mobile and semiconductor - they have their own customers," he said. "But my point in terms of preparations for the future, new technologies are coming in AI IoT, VR, AR,. ... How can we meet the challenge in terms of that we are unified as one company."

Lessons from the Note 7:

  • "It's very much a painful memory. When I look back a year ago it was so sad and very much a difficult and tough time. My two driving principles were accountability and transparency – both inside and outside of Samsung. I was trying to keep two principles one is my accountability not only inside of Samsung but out, and the other was transparency."
  • The company tested thousands of devices and batteries as part of an extensive investigation, implementing new safety measures, including an 8-point battery safety test designed to avoid a repeat.
  • "I'm very happy nothing happened S8 and S8+ and Note 8. I want to gain back customers love and trust in the brand and products. I'm not relaxing at all."

On Software and Services and relations with Google:

  • "Our software and services are not just a new thing," he said, pointing to Samsung Pay, digital health efforts and the Knox security suite.
  • As for things with Google, Koh said the relationship is the best it has ever been, noting that he met recently with CEO Sundar Pichai.

Update: At the developer conference on Wednesday, Samsung announced a new version of Bixby and said it was unifying its disparate cloud efforts under the SmartThings moniker.

Go deeper

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

Technical glitch in Facebook's ad tools creates political firestorm

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: SOPA Images / Contributor

Facebook said late Thursday that a mix of "technical problems" and confusion among advertisers around its new political ad ban rules, caused issues affecting ad campaigns of both parties.

Why it matters: A report out Thursday morning suggested the ad tools were causing campaign ads, even those that adhered to Facebook's new rules, to be paused. Very quickly, political campaigners began asserting the tech giant was enforcing policies in a way that was biased against their campaigns.

1 hour ago - Health

States beg for Warp Speed billions

A COVID-19 drive-thru testing center yesterday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Photo: David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP

Operation Warp Speed has an Achilles' heel: States need billions to distribute vaccines — and many say they don't have the cash.

Why it matters: The first emergency use authorization could come as soon as next month, but vaccines require funding for workers, shipping and handling, and for reserving spaces for vaccination sites.