Following in the footsteps of Apple and Google, Korean tech giant Samsung is making a bid on the connected car. The company announced that it's acquiring audio and car tech veteran Harman for $8 billion, which will allow Samsung to build its own smart car platform while refining its existing mobile gadgets and home electronics.
Harman is perhaps best known for providing cars with infotainment systems -- over 30 million vehicles already use the company's high-tech dashboards. According to a press release, the deal will combine Harman's "top positions in infotainment, cyber security, over-the-air updates and telematics, with Samsung’s significant expertise and experience in connectivity technologies, including 5G, UX/UI, display technology and security solutions."
That leads us to believe that Samsung is working on its own connected car platform in the vein of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Those services let you do things such as use smartphone apps on your car dashboard and call and text friends hands-free, among other features.
While Samsung is clearly making a big push into the connected cars space, this deal will likely have an impact on many of the company's other products. Harman owns a wide range of audio brands including JBL and Harman/Kardon, and the press release notes that these brands will enhance the audio features of Samsung's mobile devices, wearables, displays and VR headsets.
Samsung will also have access to the 8,000 Harman employees working on Internet of Things devices, which gives the company plenty of resources for refining its smart home products.
This potentially exciting deal comes at a bit of an awkward time for Samsung, a company that's working to restore customer goodwill after its faulty Galaxy Note 7 devices (and even a few washing machines) started exploding in the hands of customers. If shoppers can't trust Samsung's phones not to blow up, they'll probably be a bit hesitant to put a Samsung dashboard in their car.