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Samsung looks to enlist former top BMW designer

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Published : 2011-03-11 20:27
Updated : 2011-03-11 20:27

Samsung Electronics is looking to hire Chris Bangle, former chief designer for BMW Group, in pursuit of more stylish products, a company official said.

If the two parties reach consent, he is likely to take charge of designing mobile phones, netbooks, home appliances and other devices for Korea’s top electronics manufacturer.

“Samsung has been trying to offer him an advisory job, not an exclusive contract, for a long time. The position would be determined when we forge a deal,” the official said.

Bangle, 54, earned both fame and criticism for unique designs of the German automaker’s 2001 BMW 7 series, a full-size luxury vehicle lineup. 
Chris Bangle

A number of auto giants, including Hyundai Motor Co. are known to have been striving to lure him since his non-compete clause contract with BMW expired last month, under which he could not pursue a similar profession in the car industry.

Meanwhile, Samsung has been mulling ways to come up with sleeker, more sophisticated-looking gadgets and strengthen its smartphone platform in a move to boost its stakes in the global handset arena.

Rumor has it that the firm seeks to hire engineers from Nokia, as the world’s largest mobile phone maker plans to substitute its sagging Symbian platform with Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Phone.

The Finnish company said on Wednesday it would begin talks with employees over the plan, which unions fear could claim at least 5,000 jobs.

“If you’re a Symbian developer unhappy about Nokia’s recent announcements, thus looking for a new platform to showcase your talents, we say ‘Hello!’ and ‘welcome to Bada,’” said a newsletter posted by a Samsung developer on the Internet, referring to Samsung’s operating system.

“If you’re new to the Bada development or moving your app from Symbian, we’d like to welcome you,” it added.

Samsung spokespeople said it was not an official company statement.

Taking advantage of Nokia’s struggles, the Korean tech heavyweight is looking to close the gap between the two in the global mobile phone market, industry watchers said.

According to Strategy Analytics Inc., Nokia succeeded in holding the No.1 spot last year with 33.3 percent, but the figure went down from nearly 37 percent in 2009.

Samsung, the No. 2, seized a 20.6-percent stake last year, up from 19.4 percent in 2009, the research firm said.

By Shin Hyon-hee (heeshin@heraldcorp.com)