Google has ambitions to market its own car. Apple (AAPL) has also flirted with developing its own car, though reports suggest it has scaled back those plans and will now only develop technology to support a smart car.
For its part, Samsung does not plan to have hood ornaments bearing its logo, which could help it expand upon Harman's presence in 30 million vehicles made by BMW, Dodge, Jeep, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, Toyota (TM) and others.
"The Samsung-Harman combination might have some appeal in terms of its positioning as a way for automakers to get access to this technology that is viewed as not as much a competitive threat as much as a Google or an Apple," said Gartner analyst Jim Hines.
The auto supply chain is a complicated place in which companies at times must work with frenemies. Harman CEO Dinesh Paliwal has described it as a state of "coopetition," or competition with competitors. Harman partners with Google and Apple, which means that its parent will as well.
While friendly "coopetition" may be the norm, relations could become more tense when Google Cars graduate from practicing three-point turns and start to appear in consumers' driveways.
Alphabet and Apple are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells GOOGL or AAPL? Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust PortfolioSamsung Chief Strategy Officer Young Sohn made clear that the company does not want to disrupt the auto market.
"Our view is that partnering with [car makers] is the best way to accelerate deployment of connected technologies," Sohn said during a Monday investor call announcing the deal with Harman. "Samsung will not get into the business of manufacturing cars."
Some of Samsung's mobile and consumer technology could find a place in the car, which Gartner analyst Hines said is a difficult market to crack.
"Samsung is very strong in displays and display manufacturing not only for mobile devices but also for televisions," Hines said. "In the vehicle, especially with the expansion of connected vehicle services, the importance of a relatively large, high-resolution display is becoming more important."
The company's touch screens and semiconductors could also find their way into the automotive supply chain, he suggested.
Samsung's success in mobile devices illustrates the potential for the company to expand its technology beyond phones and into cars. The massive recall of the Galaxy Note 7 reinforces the argument that Samsung should develop new growth sectors in case its dominant position in smartphones declines.