(Pocket-lint) - It can be strongly argued that Samsung stole Mobile World Congress with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and its innovatively shaped sister model, the edge. During a mobile phone show distinctly lacking in mobile phones, its two flagship handsets had few rivals for attention and the company reaped the rewards. Few can doubt that they are a cracking pair of handsets too.

But while many of Samsung's recent wins have been in the smartphone and mobile device sector, it cannot be forgotten that the Korean firm grew into the huge global force it is now by providing other consumer electronics too. Samsung has been a television manufacturer from the very start and it is still a leader in that field.

It is also hoping to be at the forefront of a flood of new innovations, including the Internet of Things, which is about to invade our homes through just about every appliance we use on a daily basis. It is also a strong believer that the 4K Ultra-HD revolution will go hand-in-hand with curved screen designs. And that's where Robert King enters from stage left.

The vice president of consumer electronics at Samsung UK and Ireland is the man who is leading the company's technological assault on the home in such exciting times. And he is thrilled to do so.

"I think these are fantastically exciting times," he told Pocket-lint when we met him at Samsung's UK headquarters in Chertsey.

"The technology industry is a fascinating and exciting place to be but now it’s widening out to so many different fields, there will be an increasing number of touch points into people’s lives. And that’s a really exciting time for Samsung and for consumers of technology."

The Internet of Things

Certainly, he explained, the Internet of Things will be integral to public endearment of technology moving forward.

"This is going to be a big year for the Internet of Things," King said.

"I think we can already see this in the US where we launched our SmartThings platform and people are already connected - from lights to door locks to security sensors. And they are signing up to services where, if something happens someone will come and fix it. If the boiler breaks down, for example, somebody will automatically be contacted."

By 2020 all Samsung devices will be smart enabled.

But that doesn't mean all products need to be Samsung's. While he would no doubt prefer consumers opted for his company's products each and every time, the IoT will only gain traction in people's lives if it is based on an open platform.

"Samsung is also very pragmatic. We’re starting to move into the Internet of Things phase of technology and we firmly believe that an open platform allows people to bring other devices into that," he said.

"It will give them much more satisfaction, being able to connect devices much more quickly."


It's an interesting and refreshing strategy for a company that could technically provide every single gadget and appliance you would want in your home. Samsung even has a history of building air conditioning units and heating systems.

"Samsung will always provide the core technology across those different categories, but if people want to bring in other devices and hardware to connect into that, let’s keep the standard open."

That's not to say that the company won't be doing everything in its power to get you to choose its products, of course. It very much wants its SmartThings open platform to be the connected hub of a home.

"By 2017 all of our TVs will be smart enabled and by 2020 all Samsung devices will be smart enabled," he revealed.


Back to 2015 though and other than the Internet of Things, Samsung will look to capitalise further in the rise of Ultra High Definition. It has seen a remarkable take up in its curved 4K Ultra-HD TVs - over "60 per cent of UHD TV sales were curved," we were told - and King believes that consumers will embrace the technology when choosing their next television, even with a lack in availability of native content.

"We’re estimating that 20 to 30 per cent of the market in value terms will be UHD in 2015," he said.

"Picture clarity and picture quality in UHD content looks absolutely stunning. But of course our TVs will also upscale the content that you’re watching regardless, so it offers an enhanced viewing experience on what you’ve already got available."


That's not to say that work isn't going on behind the scenes to expand the amount of 4K video available to new UHD TV owners. Netflix and other streaming services will be major sources for native material in the coming months and the first broadcaster to get 4K sport onto our screens will be very popular indeed.

"I think sports broadcasters will begin to ramp up their UHD offering," he explained to us.

"I was at the test broadcast for the World Cup last year and that was a phenomenal experience to see the quality a UHD broadcast can bring – you can see the faces in the crowd, the blades of grass under players’ feet. It’s a really exciting experience."

However, he doesn't think 4K Blu-ray will be as big a driver in the uptake of UHD TVs. Not this year, at least.

"At this moment in time streaming is one of the most available options for customers. We’ve got things like Ultra High Definition video packs, which we’ll continue to expand on as we go forward," King said.

"And I think we’ll see an increase in UHD content being made available from some of the streaming companies. Those and sport will be the main sources of Ultra High Definition content."

Curved TV

One thing Robert King is sure of is that alongside 4K Ultra-HD, curved screens will be top of many TV buyers' wish lists this year. They will be a main part of Samsung's strategy going forward.

"I’ve stood in store on many occasions and watched people’s reactions, where they are walking by and then suddenly stop and double take. They see the curve and then great picture content on there as well. It’s a great experience and gets people interested immediately," he explained.

"Seeing is believing. Once you stand in front of that curved, Ultra High Definition TV and get that full immersive experience it’s pretty mind-blowing."


It goes hand in hand with the expansion in TV screen sizes in the UK and Ireland. It is believed that the national average is now 46-inches. And rising.

"When flatscreen came in, 32-inch was pretty much the UK norm. But we’re way past that now," he said.

"And for the curved experience, people want that as big as possible. We are seeing the demand for 50-55-inch screens increase dramatically."

We're happy to continue to support 3D.

That's because the TV continues to be the main focal point in a living room for a family group or friends, regardless of the popularity of mobile devices. Indeed, perhaps even because.

King believes that although tablet devices have become a part of many a household's central entertainment experience, Samsung's Android slates included, they often complement rather than replace the television.

"The TV is still the gathering point in the home for family and friends, especially for social events such as sport or X-Factor or whatever. But people bring their own personal devices along, so they are all tweeting and all this kind of stuff while socially gathered together experiencing the same social event. I think it’s really exciting times; to have that personal space but also being part of the family or friends group."

Virtual reality

Also in terms of personal devices, Samsung is an active member of the virtual reality boom. But unlike mobile phones and tablets, the likelihood of a family unit all sitting around in the same room with their VR devices strapped to their heads is unlikely.

"I think that’s a market that will continue to develop over the next few years," he said.

"The virtual reality experience is a fascinating concept and it will improve further and further, but we should still be socially interactive and not push our family and friendships to the way side."


Maybe a lesson will have been learned from attempting to get the family unit to all wear 3D glasses at home.

"We're happy to continue to support 3D," said King. "But it’s really now down to the film companies to produce content. I think more content needs to be available."

Going forward

So our time with the vice president of consumer electronics at Samsung was coming to an end and we distinctly got the idea that 2015 will be a major year for company, worldwide and in the UK and Ireland.

Its curved TV sales are expected to rise greatly, which will go hand-in-hand with the adoption of Ultra-HD in both hardware terms and content.

Connected and smart devices will start to talk to each other in more efficient ways than ever before, regardless of whether they are Samsung-branded or otherwise. We might even be able to lose ourselves more in virtual landscapes over the coming months.

And with more than £25 million a day being invested in research and development by Samsung alone, things can get even better in years to come.

These are "fantastically exciting times" indeed.

Writing by Rik Henderson.