With both smartphone and PC sales plateauing, tech giants like Apple and Samsung are always looking for new markets. Apple of course made a big bet on music with its $3B acquisition of Beats, and Samsung is now making an even bigger play by announcing plans to buy U.S. automotive component maker Harman International.

The WSJ reports that the $8B deal will be the biggest one Samsung has ever struck, and it has more than a little in common with Apple’s purchase of Beats …


Harman is best known for the audio brands it owns, covering both home and automotive markets. Harman brands include Harmon Kardon, Infinity, JBL, Lexicon and Mark Levinson. It also has a partnership with British audio specialists Bowers & Wilkins.

Harman is also big in other forms of automotive tech, including embedded infotainment systems, connected safety and security systems, partnering with an impressive roster of car brands that include Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Chrysler, Jeep, Toyota, VW and more.

The company is additionally involved in corporate technology and the Internet of Things.

Automotive tech is arguably the market with the greatest potential for growth at present as the industry moves towards self-driving vehicles. This will not only drive demand for autonomous driving technology, but also means that in-car infotainment systems will become increasingly important as cars start doing the driving and their occupants need to find other ways to make use of the time spent travelling in them.

It won’t be Samsung’s first move into the automotive market. While the company’s car business is not well-known outside Asia, it partners with Renault and Nissan to make three different models that date back to 1998 but still sell today: the Samsung SM 3, SM 5 and SM 7.

It looks unlikely that Samsung will be looking to follow Apple into the streaming music business, however. Its previous attempt at a streaming music service, Samsung Milk, lasted just 18 months before it was discontinued.

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