Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Fun Topic: Apple vs. Samsung (Fine Dining vs. Mega Buffet)

*Sorry for the gap in posts. Being in Toronto, Canada we've been through Ice-Storms, Polar Vortex and Power Outages! Hopefully we'll get this back on track again in 2014... thanks for your patience.*

There is no getting around that Samsung and Apple are two very different companies. They are headquartered in two different continents, have two very different corporate histories and basically seem to go about business in polar opposite ways. Apple does everything, including write the OS and design the perfect matching hardware. Samsung uses (non-exclusively) a 3rd party (Google) to write the core OS (Android) and focuses on adding on the basic OS with value-adds aligned with in-house designed hardware. Apple only supports iOS devices, yet Samsung makes more than just Android phones, hedging their bets with Windows Phone, Bada and Tizen phones. Apple is concerned with the end-product, where as Samsung also sells it components to other companies (even at one point to ironically Apple possibly for shortfall of retina displays for new iPad Mini Retina).

However today I want to look at one specific difference in basic philosophies between the companies. In Apple we have a 'brand-name' synonymous with design, and like a fine dinning establishment believe they know what consumers want and have no problems telling customers what that is. It's the "chic" resturant with only one or two daily specials. Where Samsung seems to be the more accommodating endless buffet whose goal is to have something that will please anyone.

If you look here, it lists no less than 23 models of phones that Samsung has released in 2013. For Samsung, it seems they would be embarrassed if you asked for a phone format combination that they didn't already produce. The older Galaxy Y Pro Dous was the smallest display at 2.6" and new Galaxy Mega 6.3 is currently the largest at 6.3" (phone-format device that is not a true phone, but tablet like Tab 7" and 10"), more than DOUBLE the size!
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
  • Samsung Galaxy Win Pro
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2
  • Samsung Galaxy Express 2
  • Samsung Galaxy Round
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 Active
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket Neo
  • Samsung Galaxy Star
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
  • Samsung Galaxy Y Plus
  • Samsung Galaxy Win
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame
  • Samsung Galaxy S4
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
  • Samsung Galaxy Young
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket Plus
(From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samsung_Galax)

(Samsung Galaxy Y Pro Duos - image from here)

(Samsung Galaxy Mega - image from here)

Apple on the other hand released 2x models in 2013, doubling the previous year's models with the 5s and 5c. Besides the *slight* pricing difference and visual colour offering, there really isn't that much difference between the available iPhones. Even Apple's own site points this out. The 5c has older A6 chip which isn't 64-bit, but many users would be hard-pressed to know the difference at this time between 64 vs. 32-bit iPhones (at this time... who knows about it in the near/short-term future... with apps and api in the feature that better take advantage of this... it may be more noticeable). Both phones use lighting connector, 720 video recording, 1080 HD display, 1136-by-640 resolution
and 326 ppi.
  • iPhone 5c
  • iPhone 5s

(iPhone 5s & iPhone 5c - images from here)

From a developer point of view, I find it hard to manage with the Samsung philosophy. There are so many disparate models with differing physical differences like screen sizes, resolutions, but also software & O/S level difference like Android O/S version and Premium Suite & security enhancement support like KNOX and SAFE. Having an app work perfectly on one Samsung Galaxy device does not ensure portability to another Samsung Galaxy device. Compound that with the issue that many models are region specific, it becomes a nightmare to support all but the most popular permutations.

From a consumer point of view, I find it hard to imagine how Samsung is able to make any "economy of scale" saving with so many different models of products. Shipping 3 or 4 models a year can be daunting for any company, but 23 models?!? For me I already get confused which are "budget" models or "premium" models. "S" and "Note" vs. the cheaper "Y" and "M" devices.

However it's hard to argue with Samsung's relative success. Compared to all other Android device manufacturers, they are the Apple of the Android world. For example, in 2 months, the new Galaxy Note sold 10 million units.

So bottom line? I hope I don't get into trouble for saying this, but it seems like Samsung is taking the safe-bet. It's spreading it's investment and ensuring that no device format is missed and basically offering the proverbial "Chinese Menu". So as a 'developer', I feel like the innovation is going to come from Apple and Samsung will always be playing catch-up. Realistically it seems like there are more Chinese Buffets than Michelin Star Restaurants.

Therefore, it might make sense for companies to develop for the less varied, but more refined iPhone and then attempt to move to support the massive offering from Samsung Galaxy/Android. Do you think Samsung took that into consideration when coming up with their product offering?

Hope that helps...

Wayne Pau


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