'Mr. Galaxy' gets back to basics

'Mr. Galaxy' gets back to basics
Samsung Electronics mobile chief Shin Jong-kyun delivers a keynote speech during the Galaxy S6 World Tour promoting the new Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge in Seoul on Thursday.

When Samsung's mobile chief Shin Jong-kyun took to the stage to promote the company's new flagship smartphone Galaxy S6 on Thursday, the keyword in his speech was "a return to fundamentals."

"We tried to understand what customers really wanted from the beginning," he said. "Heading forward alone cannot be innovation. Real innovation is making a project that can make customers' daily life more convenient and enjoyable."

Samsung Galaxy sales have been sluggish in recent years, as it has felt the squeeze by more affordable smartphones by Chinese upstarts such as Xiaomi, as well as at the high-end by Apple's hot-selling iPhones.

In particular, the dismal failure of the Galaxy S5 last year hit Samsung hard, with its profits plummeting drastically.

Shin, the "Mr. Galaxy" who has led the development of the Galaxy series from the beginning, also faced challenges within the company and has sometimes been absent at launch events over the past years. But he was reelected as CEO of the Korean tech giant last year and put significant effort into the S6.

The S6 and S6 Edge, whose project name was "Zero," was born out of errors Samsung made over years and learnt from.

In a luxurious makeover, the phones ditched plastic for metal and are equipped with new premium features such as advanced camera technology, wireless charging and Samsung's mobile payment system.

Boosted by positive reviews earlier, Shin has never tried to hide his high expectations about the new phones, saying sales would hit a record high.

"We faced challenges before the Galaxy S6 launch. Our goal was nothing but innovation with sincerity," he said. "I'm confident that the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are the most beautiful and powerful smartphones."

Shin is an engineering major and entered Samsung in 1984, joining the mobile business division in 1994. He became CEO of Samsung Electronics in 2013.

In 2014, he was the highest-paid executive at the nation's top 10 conglomerates, with a salary package worth 14.57 billion won (S$18.1 million).

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