Steve Kovach writing for Business Insider has published a real humdinger of a piece claiming that Samsung is now out-innovating Apple in the mobile market. I disagree and here’s why.
Naturally, Kovach’s first paragraph is filled with statements that can’t be argued with, especially in regards to Apple having lead the way in making mobile phones what they are today. Kovach mentions that that competitors are “leapfrogging” Apple with features that can’t be found on their devices. He fails to point out a single feature that has bested Apple’s at this point. He then suggests that “evidence is everywhere” and then points to Samsung as the main threat.
Kovach goes on to suggest that Samsung’s Galaxy line is “synonymous” with Google’s Android operating system. I highly doubt it. I would wager that most Galaxy users have no idea what software they are running, or who makes that software, and they probably don’t care. This is all fine and good, but far from “synonymous”.
The piece goes on to hold up the Galaxy Note (and Note II) as proof that Samsung is innovating, by releasing a cheese platter with a stylus. Kovach’s only proof that this device is worth a damn is sales numbers (Note sold 10 Million, Note II sold 5 Million so far). He even admits that he bashed the product in his own review. Following this logic, The Ford Fiesta would be a higher-quality, better performing car than a Mercedes-Benz S-Class because Ford sold more Fiestas? This line of logic eludes me- mostly because it makes no sense.
The article goes on to note that Samsung “isn’t afraid to tout its cool factor” with their ads mocking Apple customers. You know the ads, the ones where someone with a Galaxy phone is showing it off to a bunch of people standing in a line, presumably at an Apple store. To my mind, those ads barely show off a feature of the Galaxy and do nothing more than make fun of and alienate the very people they are trying to lure away. Besides, why do I want to touch your phone with mine, when I could send you a video file from anywhere in the world? It makes a nice demo I suppose.
It is then suggested that Samsung is really pushing the envelope with software updates, and adding features to the Android platform.
On the software side of things, Samsung is taking advantage of its mobile devices’ processing power to layer premium features on top of Android, such as the ability to run two apps at once in a split screen or separate window. Samsung’s best tablet, the Galaxy Note 10.1, can do all that plus take advantage of a stylus so you can draw and take notes on the screen.
Let me translate this chunk of wisdom into english. Processing power is still held as the gold standard for how awesome your computer is. Apple has taken things the opposite direction and made that irrelevant to consumers. You don’t need to know what the clock speed is if apps just behave correctly and responsively.
Next up is the “Samsung’s best tablet” bit. How many tablet lines do you need? Apple has one with two sizes- iPad and iPad mini. Then he states “take advantage of the stylus”. Really? A major selling feature in 2013 is a stylus? Excuse me while I go draw in the mud with a stick.
After touting the split-screen app feature of the Note 10.1, he points out that only 20 apps currently support the feature. It must be so fantastic that developers are just rushing to implement the feature. Kovach also notes that Samsung is quick to push out new version of Android (I do applaud them in that regard), and new features like the Google Now voice assistant. Which, you know, was rolled out by Google.
Changing corse the piece then touts Windows 8 which has “a lot of advantages over iOS”. The advantage he points out once again, but this time for Windows 8, is the ability for apps to run in a split-screen mode. Oh, and the main menu can display real-time updates. I guess he forgot that both Android and iOS have Notification Center. Should I also mention that reviews of the Windows Surface Pro tablets have routinely mentioned a compromised experience?
Wrapping up, Kovach notes that Apple’s latest iPad has an excellent processor, but the software doesn’t take advantage of it. Here, I believe he thinks things should look new for them to actually be new. Apparently a nice, clean grid of icons is too stale for him.
In these following two paragraphs, Kovach really proves his lack of understanding of Apple:
Apple also isn’t nearly as versatile at adding new software features to its devices. Apple usually makes users wait a year or more for a new version of iOS, and even then some older devices can’t access all the latest and greatest features.
Apple CEO Tim Cook likes to say tablets — not laptops — are the future of computing, yet it feels like Apple’s software goes out of its way to limit what you can do on the machine.
Apple takes time to polish and perfect a feature before releasing it into the world. Once a year, and it hits with a splash. Kovach then grumbles about how older devices can’t use all of the new software features. I guess he forgot the 90s, or how software and hardware work together. Computers are always getting faster in order to accommodate software that pushes the boundaries. Some software features just wouldn’t work on slower older-generation devices. Instead of sacrificing batter life or system perforce like other manufacturers might, the feature is cut from that older product. Also, how do you think Apple became the most profitable company in the world? By creating products incrementally and pushing forward constantly.
This was obviously a link bait piece by Mr. Kovach. It’s rarely backed up with fact, just hunches and sales numbers. Even the video that accompanies the article is misleading. Apple’s profits were not flat this last quarter as the report claims. No, the law of large numbers has caught up with them. Profit was still up (a little) and revenue was way up.
The video also points to a chart showing Samsung with 32% mobile phone market share. Did they report who had the highest profit share in the mobile phone industry? Hint: it was Apple.
Apple is still the major innovator in this market, both in regards to product and manufacturing process. What gets glossed over when people like Mr. Kovach talk about Apple, are the intangibles. Things like fit and finish, material quality, design, weight, density- everything that comes together to create one solid, satisfying product. No one ever seems to talk of that with competing Android phones, probably because there aren’t any that meet Apple’s level of fit and finish. So, in an effort to stand out they try to dazzle customers with tech numbers and larger and larger screens.
This is starting to feel like the processor speed battles of the 90s. The same fragmentation that is causing PC vendors from the 90s to falter, will eventually happen to mobile phones. I’m looking at you Android.
Apple needs to stay on it’s toes, but for now, they’re still on top.