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Tae Moon Roh: Who is Samsung’s new smartphone boss?

Samsung has announced a major management shake-up, with the famous DJ Koh being replaced by Tae Moon Roh at the top of the company’s mobile division. But who is he?

The news broke this week that Samsung has appointed Tae Moon Roh (also spelled Roh Tae-moon or stylised as TM Roh) as the new head of its mobile phones division, replacing the well-known and well-liked figurehead of DJ Koh. Bloomberg reports that Samsung stock climbed by 2.5% in Seoul upon the appointment — and here’s why.

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Tae Moon Roh joined Samsung in 1997, and his most recent position was that of president and head of R&D at Samsung’s IT and mobile communications division. From reports we’ve received so far, we can expect a strong technical focus from the 51-year-old, with Bloomberg writing that he is “regarded internally as an engineering maven who’s meticulous about phone features”.

The source also quotes CIMB analyst Lee Dohoon as saying: “Samsung may now gradually follow Apple in focusing on design and developments. Though it’s expanded outsourcing for production, Samsung will keep a tighter rein on quality control to protect its brands.”

A previous mention from Samsung’s official newsroom comes courtesy of an interview back when the Samsung Galaxy S7 was launched. It lives up to his reputation for minutiae, with the focus in that particular instance being water resistance and camera features, but consumers can take heart from his philosophy on Samsung’s future:

“Very simply, consumers drive Samsung’s innovation… we will relentlessly pursue the technological innovations that will help enrich people’s lives.”

This technical focus and openness to consumer input could well prove to be valuable as Tae Moon Roh spearheads the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S20 next month, along with longer-term projects such as 5G and foldables.

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Tae Moon Roh replaces DJ Koh, who will remain the head of Samsung’s IT and communications division.

Despite the fact that a few noticeable flops occurred on Koh’s watch, including the combustible Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and the fragile Samsung Galaxy Fold, overall Samsung saw strong growth under his leadership, and it has come to dominate the 5G handset market.

We’ll be watching closely to see if Tae Moon Roh can improve on this.

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