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Samsung ranked No. 2 globally in smartphones behind Apple in the second quarter of this year, according to U.S.-based market research firm IDC, which cited the growing global popularity of the Galaxy S smartphones. In overall mobile phones, Samsung ranks second behind Finland’s Nokia Corp.

The Suwon, South Korea-based company got a late start in smartphones after Apple shook up the industry with the launch of the iPhone in 2007, but has come on strong.

Lee painted an optimistic portrait of Samsung’s future growth and said she believes it can eventually take the No. 1 spot in smartphones and mobile phones.

“We are striving to continue this growth momentum and someday we can imagine that we can be in the leading position,” she said, emphasizing that Samsung has a broad array of hardware, functions, operating systems _ Google’s Android, Microsoft’s Windows and Samsung’s own bada _ prices and presence in global markets.

“We are aware of the importance of branding so we’ll be reinforcing this Galaxy branding,” she said of the Android-based devices.

Regarding Google Inc.’s proposed $12.5 billion deal to buy mobile phone maker Motorola Mobility, Lee said the plan has not changed Samsung’s relationship with the Mountain View, California-based search engine.

“We still have a very good relationship,” she said. “We are working very closely with Google.”

Lee joined Samsung in 2007 from French cosmetics maker L’Oreal. Makeup and mobile phones have a lot in common, she said, in that both are focused on individual expression.

Mobile phones, she said, are not just technology, but “a culture and showing who I am, where I belong, how trendy I am.”