Every major player in Silicon Valley, from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg, has been going to this Chinese restaurant

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Next Shark (by Melly Lee):

Silicon Valley is known for a multitude of landmarks, including the garages Apple and Google were started in, the Facebook campus, and the IBM Almaden Research Lab. The one landmark, however, that perhaps garners the most universal praise from the best and the brightest of the area is Chinese restaurant Chef Chu’s.
MellyLee-ChefChu-001Started by Lawrence Chu in 1970, Chef Chu’s has been the go-to place for the Bay Area’s tech elite, celebrities and politicians. Tennis superstar Serena Williams, platinum-selling artist Justin Bieber and former Intel CEO Craig Barrett have all frequented Chu’s establishment. The late Apple founder Steve Jobs also used to be a regular before he became a recognizable tech titan.

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He’d come in here as a nobody,” Chu told Mercury News in a 2012 interview. “He’d wait 45 minutes to get a table and all of a sudden he’s on the cover of Time Magazine. I was busy making a living. I didn’t know who he was.”

In the mid-1980s, when then Secretary of State George Shultz needed to hold an emergency meeting with other high-ranking officials in the Reagan administration, he held it at Chef Chu’s.

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Even though he’s been in business for 45 years, the 72-year-old Chu still goes to work with seemingly the same passion and drive he started with. He’s frequently in the kitchen helping the staff and tries greeting every single customer that walks through the door.

Silicon Valley futurist Paul Saffo once said: “No restaurant has had the longevity of Chef Chu’s for either quality of the food or popularity with the valley’s movers and shakers. It’s as vibrant and lively as it’s ever been.”

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Most recently, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has become a regular at Chef Chu’s. Chu tells NextShark: “Mark Zuckerberg comes in here all the time. Him and his wife Priscilla came here last Sunday. Their parents too, they moved from the East Coast.”
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Even with all the celebrity attention, Chef Chu believes in one core philosophy when treating customers: “Whoever comes in here, we should treat them the same. For a simple reason: they all pay the same price. Whether they’re an engineer, doctor, governor.

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Aside from his restaurant, Chu has published three cookbooks, started a catering business, and created his own cooking classes.

His first job was as a busboy at Trader Vic’s, a Polynesian restaurant in San Francisco.

He recounts: “In the restaurant, we worked so hard and I found out that I loved restaurants. It’s very famous as well. I was there; I met all celebrities there. I was a busboy, waiter, bartender. Then I told myself, one day I want to do something like this. Maybe not a busboy, but I want to do something of my own.
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At the time, he was trying to woo his future wife, Ruth Ho, who was then a PhD student at Stanford University. He’d often joke to her that he was also a PhD: poor, hungry and determined. Chu successfully wooed not only his future wife, but also his future father-in-law, who was a successful entrepreneur.

I told the father that I had a dream. I said I want to open fast food Chinese restaurants in America. The father liked me. They all liked me in a sense, but they never asked my education. They only said, ‘This guy is 25 years old and has a dream.’

MellyLee-ChefChu-012It was in 1970 that Chu decided to follow through on his dream of starting his own restaurant, opening his first fast-food Chinese restaurant in a space that used to be a small laundromat between a beauty salon and appliance repair shop.

Six months later, he took over the beauty salon’s space in order to expand his venture into a sit-down restaurant. Three years after that, with money he saved over the years and from an investment from his father-in-law, Chu purchased the entire complex and completely renovated his restaurant, including the installation of a state-of-the-art kitchen.

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Although by then a successful restaurateur, Chu wanted to be a chef and worked tirelessly to learn from the chefs he hired at his restaurant, perfecting his culinary skill through practice and trial and error.

I worked my butt off. I collapsed in my bed every day. I cooked for 20 years in the kitchen.”

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After his father’s restaurant was closed down by the health department, Chu went to college for two semesters to learn how to properly run a restaurant in order to make sure the same fate wouldn’t befall his own restaurant. To this day, Chu takes cleanliness and hygiene at his restaurant as one of his top priorities.

Personal hygiene is very important. That’s 24 hours every second, every minute of the job. When you decorate the plate, everything on the plate should be edible. You cannot just put a flower there because it looks good. Everything on the plate should be edible.”
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Initially, Chu wanted to open a chain of Chinese restaurants all over the country but he eventually decided to just focus on one. At 72, he’s still learning and regularly travels to Asia to discover new culinary secrets.

People always ask me why I have only one restaurant. ‘Why do you work at 72? Why don’t you hire people and open two or three restaurants?’ The type of restaurant that I run is totally different than the type of restaurant that you run. It takes a lot of hard work but ultimately you must be a leader.

You have to have a great team behind you. For them, it is just another job. For me, it is my life. Most people work for me 20 to 30 years and retire. Why? They knew that they could trust me and that I would not let them down and that I was passionate. You have to demonstrate that you are a true leader.

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Chu is not the only successful person in his family. His middle son, Jon M. Chu, is a successful director who has helmed films like “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” and “Step Up 2: The Street.” His other son, Larry Chu Jr., has joined his father in the kitchen and plans to take over the restaurant someday.

Since Larry joined me [it has] allowed me to cut about 50% of the worry.

Most people [say], ‘Chef Chu, you should retire. You have all the money in the world.’ I’m coming here [because] I’m proud of what I do. I’m making history. I believe my philosophy, my method. I trust my instinct. I trust my burning desire that we put 100 percent in the business and don’t stop improving. I don’t say change for the sake of change. Don’t stop advancing. Don’t stop because the world is running, the world is changing.

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M.I.A. releases “Matahdatah Scroll 01 Broader Than a Border” on Apple Music

My new song Swords was filmed in a Temple in India and we recorded the clang of the metal to make the beat at the same time as shooting these incredible girls. There’s ten more of these countries coming and I haven’t chased where to go yet, so who knows where this project will take me. Warriorswas shot in Cote d’Ivoire with a guy I saw in a YouTube video doing the most incredible dancing. I tracked down that exact guy, flew out there and played him the Warriors track. He did his thing for me. He is a spiritual warrior and communicates through dancing. It’s a lifelong commitment for him to be the designated spiritual body that channels that dance.

Matahdatah Scroll 01 is available now via Apple Music.

Apple’s $930 Million lawsuit against Samsung gets partially reversed

The never-ending saga between Apple and Samsung gets another chapter in its books, as the Korean mobile communications giant has just received a partial reversal on its 2012 lawsuit loss.

For a refresher, back in 2012, Apple sued Samsung over violating intellectual property, resulting in a whopping $930 million USD settlement. During the height of the trial, Apple presented several examples of unregistered trade dress which they claimed Samsung infringed upon for its Galaxy S and Nexus S devices. Trade dress protection applies to design elements that are nonfunctional, with Apple citing examples such as ”a rectangular product with four evenly rounded corners” and “a flat, clear surface covering the front of the product” as instances that were purely just for aesthetics and have no impact on usability for the suit.

However, a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals revisited the trial earlier today and ruled that while Samsung did indeed infringe upon Apple’s design patents, it did not with Apple’s trade dress. According to the court, “the requirement that the unregistered trade dress ‘serves no purpose other than identification’ cannot be reasonably inferred from the evidence.

Therefore, the court has asked for an update on the damages to be awarded, which should come out to around a $382 million USD discount for Samsung.

Free Sakura app means cherry blossoms could be blooming on your monitor right now

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As of yesterday, it’s officially cherry blossom season in Tokyo, with media outlets reporting the first flowers of the year spotted inside the capital. While we’re still a week or two away from the sakura being in full bloom, their incredibly short life span means they’ll be gone before you know it, so most people are looking to spend as much time watching the delicate pink flowers as they can in the coming days.

Much as we’d like to, though, most of us can’t spend all of the next few weeks stretched out on the grass under a cherry tree. But should you find yourself stuck in front of a computer monitor with work or social responsibilities to take care of, you can still soak up a bit of the cherry blossom atmosphere with this app that produces a cloud of sakura petals on your desktop.

Developer Studio-Kura doesn’t throw any curveballs in the naming of its newest Mac app. The program is called Sakura, and that’s exactly what it gives you.

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Given the short window in which cherry blossoms bloom, it’s always a roll of the dice what sort of conditions you’ll be able to see them in. The Sakura app gives you a bit more control, though. By adjusting a series of sliders, you can increase or decrease the volume of petals flittering down from the top of your monitor, adjust the force of the wind blowing them about, and even make the pink flowers more opaque or translucent, depending on your preferences. There’s also a toggle that allows you to choose whether the sakura appear in front of or behind inactive windows.

Previously, Studio-Kura had been distributing the program directly, but Sakura is now available here on the Mac App Store, free of charge. Just be careful not to spend so long staring transfixed at the beautiful virtual cherry blossoms that you miss your chance to see the real ones.

iOS 8.3 will change some of your favorite Emojis

With iOS 8.3 coming up fast, we might have to say bye to some familiar characters we’ve come to know and love. With some previously-announced changes, such as the inclusion of more racially diverse emojis and same-sex families, some familiar emojis will be getting a face lift. For example, the man emoji will don a new and updated, more detailed mustache… for no discernible reason, and the “dancing girls” emoji will get a dye job and a new set of headbands.

But not only that, our favorite “6 God”/”prayer hands” emoji is losing its inspirational rays.

Check out the Emojipedia here to study up on the new changes before they appear on your phone.

 

Reuters: Japan Display is building a $1.4 billion manufacturing plant for Apple

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The Verge:

Japan Display is building a new manufacturing plant in an attempt to become the primary source for iPhone displays, according to Reuters. Apple will also invest in the $1.4 billion plant, which will be used to build LCD displays, according to the report. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Apple will cover the construction costs for the plant, and in return get the majority of the displays it produces. Last year, Japan Display’s stock tumbled after it announced it would have to delay shipments, reportedly meant for Apple, according to Bloomberg.

The new plant, which Japan Display says will increase its LCD production by 20 percent — and hopefully help avoid those kinds of delays — is expected to open in 2016.

How Samsung won and then lost the smartphone war

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Samsung Mobile CEO JK Shin

 

Business Insider:

In November 2011, Samsung released the first of a series of ads that would define the company for the next three years.

It started with a bunch of hipster-looking people waiting outside a mock Apple Store for the next iPhone. As the hipsters tick down the hours until they have the right to get Apple’s new iThing, they spot others on the street using something better.

The phone, Samsung’s former flagship Galaxy S II, had a big screen and a 4G wireless connection, two major features that were missing from Apple’s new iPhone 4S. And unlike the iPhone, you didn’t have to wait around to buy a Galaxy S II. You could get it now. But you didn’t see anyone lining up to buy a Samsung, or anything other than an iPhone, in those days.

Things started to change with the first “Next Big Thing” spot. Just like Apple poked fun at Microsoft with its “I’m a Mac” campaign in the 2000s, Samsung’s goal was to tap into the same strategy — a little guy taking swings at the dominant player in the industry — and for a while it worked.

By the end of 2012, Samsung’s profits were up a whopping 76%, fueled by the growth of the mobile division, which suddenly became the most profitable part of Samsung. Samsung was the only company other than Apple making a profit in mobile, and it seemed to be closing in on Apple’s dominance, prompting The Wall Street Journal to publish its famous “Has Apple Lost Its Cool To Samsung?” headline in January 2013.

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Samsung’s Galaxy S II commercial made fun of Apple fans waiting for the new iPhone

By the time the Galaxy S4 launched in March 2013, the anticipation surrounding Samsung’s products could only be rivaled by Apple. It was officially a two-horse race.

But it only took another year for things to come crashing down. Profits tumbled in 2014, even during the normally lucrative holiday season. Throughout the year, Samsung blamed increased competition in mobile for the downturn.

Now, Samsung is gearing up for its most important smartphone launch ever on March 1. The question is whether or not the Galaxy S6 will be enough to help Samsung recover from its slump, or if it will share the same fate as former kings of mobile like Nokia, BlackBerry, and Motorola.

How did Samsung get so big so fast and how did it all go so wrong?

Competition from new players like Xiaomi and a renewed Apple were central to the decline, but corporate turmoil at Samsung, including a rift between the company’s South Korean headquarters and its suddenly successful US group, also played a major role.

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The Samsung Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 5S

The birth of “Galaxy”

As the post-iPhone smartphone era began in 2008 and 2009, Samsung, along with many others, was hopelessly behind the curve. It relied mostly on carriers to sell its smartphones, but even then, there wasn’t any distinct branding to separate Samsung’s devices from the slew of other generic phones on the shelf. Depending on their carrier, consumers chose between iPhone, BlackBerry, or whatever their carrier threw in for free with a two-year contract.

By about 2009, Samsung decided it needed to come up with a new brand for its upcoming line of flagship phones designed to run Android, according to sources familiar with Samsung’s plans at the time. Samsung had a revolutionary new screen technology called Super AMOLED that it at first wanted to put in someone else’s device, perhaps a phone built by a major wireless carrier like Verizon. Samsung has always provided chips and displays for other manufacturers, and it wanted to license its Super AMOLED tech the same way.

Eventually, Samsung decided to make its own high-end smartphone to compete with the iPhone, but it had no way to market it. The “Samsung” name was synonymous with cheap flip phones and nice TVs. It was never mentioned in the same breath as Apple, BlackBerry, or Nokia. That could’ve set up the new device for failure before it even launched. Plus, Samsung tested its brand against Apple with consumers and learned it was barely recognizable as far as smartphones go. It needed a change.

So Samsung created a luxury sub-brand for its Android phones moving forward, the Lexus to its Toyota.

It chose Galaxy.

In March 2010, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S, the first in what would become its successful line of Android phones and tablets. The Galaxy S had hardware specs that rivaled the iPhone but was also heavily criticized for copying the iPhone’s software and physical appearance. That didn’t seem to matter. There were hundreds of carriers in the world that still didn’t offer the iPhone, and AT&T still had an exclusive on the device in the US.

Samsung made deals with wireless carriers to promote the Galaxy S in stores when it launched that June. Even better, Samsung got AT&T to agree to sell the Galaxy S, even though it was sure to be a strong rival for the iPhone.

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It wasn’t that long ago HTC was king of Android

Two-horse race

Even with the successful launch of the Galaxy S, Samsung was still behind Android rivals like HTC. Both companies were making decent phones, but neither gave customers a good reason to choose one over the other. As Samsung prepared to launch its successor to the Galaxy S, the Galaxy S II, in the spring of 2011, it also formulated a new strategy to market the device, at least in the US.

According to sources familiar with the company’s thinking at the time, Samsung’s Korean executives wanted Galaxy to be the number-one smartphone brand within five years. (It ranked fifth in consumer surveys at the time.)

Under the US head of marketing Todd Pendleton and his team, Samsung was able to do it in 18 months.

At first, the Korean leadership at Samsung wanted to pick off the competition one at a time, starting with HTC, then Motorola, then BlackBerry, and finally, Apple. But the US team decided on a different approach. It was going to start a war with Apple, kicking off the smartphone world’s equivalent of Coke versus Pepsi.

It was a gamble. By attacking Apple directly, Samsung risked looking petty and desperate.

But “The Next Big Thing” campaign, developed by the ad agency 72 And Sunny, was a massive hit. For the first time since the launch of the iPhone, someone had created the believable perception that there was something better out there.

Tim CookApple CEO Tim Cook

Out-innovating Apple

With the launch of “The Next Big Thing” campaign came a lot of glowing press coverage for Samsung. There was a company out there willing to take swipes at the king of smartphones, and consumers were responding.

And for all the criticism Samsung got along the way for copying Apple, it did prove that the world was hungry for something the iPhone didn’t have yet — smartphones with giant screens.

In the fall of 2011, Samsung announced the Galaxy Note, the first so-called phablet with a 5.3-inch display. (The iPhone 4S only had a 3.5-inch screen.) Compared to most phones at the time, the Galaxy Note appeared absolutely massive. When it launched in February 2013, critics blasted the Note for being too large. The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg, one of the most famous tech reviewers in the world, compared using the Note to holding a piece of toast against your ear.

 

samsung galaxy note 3Samsung’s Galaxy Note created the phablet market

The initial reception was so bad at first, sources say some US carriers almost didn’t want to sell the Galaxy Note II the following year.

But the phone sold well outside the US, especially in Asia, and eventually Samsung was able to prove there was a market for phablets. Samsung’s phones kept getting bigger and better screens, while iPhone users were stuck with tiny devices.

A powerful narrative began to emerge in the press: Apple was in trouble if it didn’t catch up with Samsung and start offering phones with bigger screens. Many asked if Apple had lost its knack for innovation following the death of Steve Jobs, and Samsung was doing a good job at making that theory seem plausible. Apple’s stock dropped as low as about $380 from its all-time high of about $705, largely on fears that Apple didn’t have a revolutionary new product up its sleeves.

Meanwhile, Samsung continued to climb. Sources familiar with Samsung’s sales at the time said its marketing of the Galaxy S line of phones had residual effects and boosted sales of Samsung’s other products like washing machines and refrigerators. In fact, the US team was outperforming Samsung’s headquarters in South Korea, and other international offices were itching to adopt “The Next Big Thing” in their respective countries.

The campaign was clearly a success. Unfortunately, not everyone at Samsung saw it that way.

Missed opportunity

The success of Samsung’s Mobile in the US began a rift with the Korean headquarters. Sources say the more successful Samsung was in the US, the more complicated the relationship with headquarters got. Instead of getting credit, the US team felt they were being chastised for doing their jobs well. (Samsung declined to comment on this story.)

It got so bad, a source told us, that Samsung flew a plane full of executives to the mobile division’s office in Dallas for an unannounced audit that lasted three weeks in 2012. The Dallas-based employees had to go through all materials they used to sell and market Samsung’s mobile products. They were accused of falsifying sales, bribing the media, and a bunch of other damaging actions that hurt morale in the office. The same US-based office that helped turn Samsung into a brand as recognizable as Apple was suddenly being punished for its work.

After three weeks, the Korean auditors found nothing wrong with the way the US office had been operating and went home. But the damage had been done, and the perception remained at the Korean headquarters that despite its success, the US team was up to no good.

In fact, during one meeting with the global teams at Samsung’s headquarters in Korea, executives made the US team stand up in front of several hundred of their peers in an auditorium. The executives told the employees to clap for the US team as encouragement since they were the only group failing the company, even though it was clear to everyone the opposite was true.

That all but killed any hope of translating what the US team pulled off to other regions. They were able to continue in North America, but Samsung’s global messaging remained disjointed.

Amid these tensions, Samsung introduced the Galaxy S4 in 2013 at an over-the-top event at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Instead of the traditional product announcement, Samsung put on a Broadway-style musical that incorporated features of the new phone.

It was weird, one of those things you had to see to believe. And a lot of people criticized Samsung for putting on a show that seemed to objectify women. CNET’s Molly Wood called the event “tone-deaf and shockingly sexist.”

Samsung Unpacked Event 92Samsung’s Galaxy S4 event was criticized for objectifying women

Aside from the awkward unveiling, the Galaxy S4 also launched to mostly negative reviews. Samsung packed a ton of features into the phone like touch-free controls, eye tracking, and a whole suite of camera modes that were either unnecessary or didn’t work as advertised. Still, the phone was Samsung’s most successful ever, and 2013 was another very good year for the company.

But 2014 was going to be a wakeup call.

The rough year

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last year, Samsung boasted it had sold more than 100 million units from its Galaxy S line over the last four years, a sales figure for a flagship series that only Apple could beat.

Then it unveiled the Galaxy S5, a phone that toned down a lot of the superfluous features of the Galaxy S4 while including some useful new stuff like an improved camera and water-resistant body. Like previous Galaxy S phones, the S5 had a plastic body and sold for about $650 unlocked. Based on the success of the Galaxy S4, the company had no reason to believe it had a dud on its hands.

It was wrong.

There were a lot of factors for Samsung’s major slip in 2014, but the biggest culprit appears to be Chinese smartphone manufacturers. Chinese companies like the startups OnePlus and Xiaomi appeared to have perfected the magic formula for making beautiful, high-quality smartphones that cost at least half as much as the iPhone or Samsung’s Galaxy S series.

Xiaomi was the biggest success story of the year. By some estimates, it was the top smartphone vendor in China, the next big market where millions of people are making the transition to smartphones. Xiaomi’s phones are made out of premium materials like metal, so they look better than Samsung’s phones. They also have similar specs like fast processors, sharp screens, and high-quality cameras.

xiaomi ceo lei junXiaomi CEO Lei Jun. Xiaomi was the top smartphone vendor in China in 2014

Xiaomi’s rise meant Samsung’s decline in China. Since Xiaomi phones are also Android phones, there was very little Samsung’s pricier models could do that Xiaomi’s phones couldn’t do. Plus, Xiaomi is a marketing success story. Fans snap up the devices with the same fervor Apple fans buy new iPhone models in Western countries. And most of Xiaomi’s marketing is done through social media or word of mouth, so it doesn’t have to rely on the multimillion dollar ad campaigns Samsung uses.

But Xiaomi is just one factor. A lot of Samsung’s success came because it was able to get a head start and distribute its phones on a broader scale before the rest of the non-iPhone competition could, according to tech analyst Ben Thompson, the author of the Stratechery blog.

For example, the iPhone was only available on about a third as many carriers as Samsung phones were. In the US, Samsung phones were one of your best options unless you were an AT&T customer and had access to the iPhone.

It was the same story on China Mobile, the largest wireless carrier in the world with over 700 million subscribers. Apple finally brought the iPhone to China Mobile early last year. Ever since, China has been one of Apple’s biggest growth areas for the iPhone business. Everyone else seemed to be choosing Xiaomi, Lenovo, or another cheaper rival to Samsung.

I think it’s always dangerous when you don’t know why you’ve won,” Thompson said in an interview. “One of the reasons Samsung succeeded is they pivoted in ways Nokia and others didn’t. They were able to leverage everything they already had, but weren’t able to sustain it because there wasn’t anything special about their phones. Samsung got crushed on the high end by Apple and the low end by Xiaomi in China.”

Thompson continued, “At the end of the day, there’s nothing to differentiate a Samsung phone, so they’ll have to compete on price.”

However, that doesn’t seem to be Samsung’s plan.

The new strategy

On March 1, Samsung will unveil two new versions of its next flagship phone, the Galaxy S6. According to sources familiar with Samsung’s plans, one version will have a metal body, a departure from the plasticky phones the company has made in the past. The second version will have a curved screen, similar to the Galaxy Note Edge that launched last fall.

But both models are still going to priced as premium products. According to one leak, the “Edge” version of the Galaxy S6 could cost over $1,000 without a contract, at least three times the cost of a Xiaomi phone.

Unless Samsung has a special trick up its sleeve on the software side, it’s unlikely that its new phones will be enough to justify the extra cost over similar Android devices. And if that happens, Samsung is almost certainly up for another messy year. The glow surrounding Samsung’s smartphone business has almost certainly faded for good. Time to find something new.

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Samsung CEO BK Yoon at the opening CES keynote

That doesn’t mean the company is hosed. Samsung is a massive organization that makes everything from dishwashers to air purifiers. It has the scale and manufacturing power to harness the next big thing after smartphones, even if that next big thing doesn’t come from it’s own R&D labs.

Plus, its chip business is already very profitable, and is due to get a nice boost thanks to a reported agreement with Apple to make processors for the next iPhone due to launch later this year.

One key area Samsung is focusing on in the near term is the “internet of things” (IoT) trend, which means connecting everyday objects like light switches and toasters to the internet for a deeper level of control. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January of this year, Samsung announced that every product it makes will connect to the internet within a few years. In theory, this will build a valuable ecosystem connecting everything in your home and create a whole new category of Samsung customers.

Still, the company may always look back longingly on those brief years when it went head-to-head with Apple.