[THE INVESTOR] Samsung Electronics has been in a neck-and-neck competition for years with crosstown rival LG Electronics in the Korean air conditioner market. LG Electronics is in the lead with a 35 percent market share, while Samsung takes up 27 percent, according to a report by local retail price data aggregator Danawa Research.
Samsung has been trying to tilt the scales with its wind-free air conditioners launched in 2013. The high-end devices are designed to reduce direct cold airflow while cooling a room evenly, with cold air flowing gently out of 135,000 micro air holes.
Installed with artificial intelligence solution Bixby, it can understand voice commands, automatically set a comfortable room temperature and cool the house before registered users arrive home. With Samsung’s SmartThings smartphone app, users can also manage the air conditioner settings.
Samsung held a rare Q&A session with engineers and marketers from the home appliance division to discuss the wind-free air conditioners on July 3 at the firm’s head office in Seoul.
Below are excerpts.
Q: Does the air conditioner work with smartphones other than Samsung’s Galaxy series?
A: Samsung’s SmartThings platform is open to all operating systems, including Apple’s iOS. It works with other smartphones, including Sony, LG and others.
Q: Does the voice recognition capability improve on its own?
A: Yes. The Bixby solution, the same one available with Samsung’s smartphones, can now understand different Korean dialects, including those spoken in the Jeolla provinces and Gyeongsang provinces.
Q: What is your take on speculation that Samsung’s wind-free air conditioners may circulate foul odors more because some parts tend to gather mold?
A: They are not true. As the AC removes heat from warm air inside the air conditioner, moisture can be created inside. You can deal with the issue by turning on the dry mode, and Samsung’s wind-free air conditioner, which has 135,000 micro air holes, is less likely to have mold growing inside as it has good ventilation.
Q: How energy efficient is the wind-free product?
A: Compared to products released a decade ago, the new air conditioner lineup is 2.5 times more efficient and can keep energy costs down by up to 65 percent.
Q: What are some measures to protect the air conditioner from hacking attempts?
A: Hardware-wise, the air conditioner is installed with security chips, so hackers have to infiltrate the chips first to get control of the whole device. The product also authenticates users’ smartphones through a solution based on ultrasonic waves.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)