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Apple and Samsung…Two Distinct Approaches to Maximize Profitability and Market Share

20 May

It has been almost 6 years since Apple launched the iPhone. The iPhone was priced at $499 and $599 for the 4Gb. and 8 Gb. version respectively. It was not until Apple reduced the price of the iPhone to $199 that sales increased dramatically. Essentially,  Apple set a standard for the price point for future smart phone offerings.

In 2007, Samsung too had a smart phone portfolio of Windows and its proprietary OS. Most of these smart phones were QWERTY based and Samsung was trying to take share from Blackberry with it’s  Blackjack device. It was the first 3G phone in the US and yours truly enjoyed the blazing fast internet speed on my Samsung Blackjack. It was not until the Summer of 2008 (a full year after the launch of the iPhone) that Samsung launched an all touch Samsung Instinct on Sprint. The phone had limited success in the marketplace. Eventually, Samsung embraced Google’s Android operating system and launched its Android portfolio in  late 2009. These devices supported a QWERTY and touch interface. Like the Instinct, these devices were marginally successful.

GALAXY PROPELS SAMSUNG

Samsung’s struggled with its smartphone strategy until the launch of the Galaxy S in the summer of 2010. The Galaxy S when compared to the iPhone offered a bigger screen, a higher resolution camera and a replaceable battery. Moreover, Samsung capitalized on the success of the Galaxy S by offering 4-5 variants of the device and simultaneously launching the Galaxy on different operators.

GalaxyS Launh

Samsung followed the success of the Galaxy S in 2010 with wildly successful releases of the following:

2011: Samsung Galaxy S II – 4.3″ Display

Samsung Galaxy Note II – 5.3″ Display “Phablet”

2012: Samsung Galaxy S III – 4.8″ Display

Samsung Galaxy Note II- 5.5″ Display “Phablet”

2013: Samsung Galaxy S4 – 5″ Display

In January 2013, Samsung announced that they had shipped a total of 100 million Galaxy devices since launch. Moreover, Samsung has shipped numerous other models of smartphones based on the Android OS. For instance, In the UK and USA, Samsung offers 46 and 63 smartphone respectively.

 

APPLE STICKS TO ONE SMARTPHONE AND MAKES MAJOR DESIGN CHANGES EVERY TWO YEARS

Since launching the iPhone in 2007, Apple stuck with its mantra of “simplicity” and “elegance.” It’s smartphone’s were exactly the same across the different operators. It has made significant product design changes effectively every two years barring the redesign of the second generation iPhone 3G launched in 2008.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Apple has released the following iPhone’s:

2007: iPhone – 3.5″ Display, aluminum rear

2008: iPhone 3G – 3.5″ Display, plastic rear

2009 iPhone 3GS – 3.5″ Display, plastic rear

2010 iPhone 4 – 3.5″ Display, glass rear

2011: iPhone 4s – 3.5″ Display, glass rear

2012:iPhone 5 – 4″ Display, metal rear

Unlike Samsung, since 2008 Apple has offered the iPhone in only two colors and it only sells the current year model and the previous two years model. Moreover, in the US, Apple did not add another operator (Verizon) till 2011. However, Apple has leveraged its approach to design, iTunes ecosystem and the App store to sell roughly 250 millions iPhones to date.

Personally, I would have liked to see Apple take the same approach to its iPhone family as it took to iPod’s – offering various models to its customers. It should have started offering choices in screen sizes in 2011 and it may have had a stronger market share. There is much speculation about a “cheaper” iPhone launch later this year. It will be interesting to see how the product is perceived in the market place.

In summary, Samsung has to be congratulated for executing and delivering on its strategy with not only its Galaxy family but also its other smartphone offering – especially since it launched its portfolio three years after the iPhone was released. Apple had virtually no competition for the first three years since the launch of the iPhone. Did they get a bit complacent based on its initial success? I have to guess, “they did.” Both companies have dominant market share in the smartphone segment and have developed a loyal customer base. Various reports indicate that Samsung won the crown for market share based on unit shipments and Apple won the crown for share of profits.

 

Google to launch Android 3.0 aka Honeycomb in March?

23 Dec

Taiwan-based news portal, Digitimes, is reporting that the next version of Android, codenamed Honeycomb, will be launched as early as March 2011. These pearls of wisdom were hidden in a feature that talks about Internet Tablets some Taiwanese brands will showcase at CES, which begins on January 6 in Las Vegas. An excerpt from the post:

On the other hand, MSI is set to display its 10-inch Wintel-based tablet PC as well as engineering samples of its ARM-based Google Android model. MSI is also prepared to sell an Nvidia Tegra 2-based model in April or May after Google releases Android 3.0 in March.

While Digitimes seems to have great sources in the form of OEM insiders, the portal has a history of getting it wrong (mostly). However, considering that Google’s Andy Rubin (the father of Android) has already showcased a Motorola prototype tablet running Honeycomb, we are willing to believe that Digitimes has got it bang on target this time.

If Honeycomb-running Tablets do hit shelves in April or May, we believe it would be a big task for Android to make a lasting impression considering that Apple’s second generation of the iPad would already be available. But stranger things have happened in the past, like when Android smartphones overtook the iPhone in global shipment numbers this year. Will history repeat itself in 2011 with Internet Tablets?

SOURCE: Digitimes IMAGE COURTESY: Virgin Media

Android 2.3 Gingerbread debuts on Samsung Nexus S

6 Dec

We have been missing in action for the past fortnight or so but what a day we chose to return. A few moments ago Google announced the Samsung Nexus S with Android 2.3 aka Gingerbread on board. enough has already been leaked about the Nexus S that it already seems like a phone that has been around for a while but the marketing gurus at Samsung have managed to spring up a new jargon for us – contour display. Yup, the phone really has a concave display as rumoured earlier.

Other features of the Galaxy S include a 1 GHz Hummingbird processor, an NFC chip, 16 GB of internal memory with no memory card slot, a 5.0 MP rear camera and a VGA front camera. Of course, there  is A-GPS, Wi-Fi b/g/n and proximity sensor and the works. You can check out the detailed specs on this Nexus S product page.

However, more than the hardware, it is the new Android OS dubbed Gingerbread that most consumers should be looking out for. Android 2.3 brings with it some refinements like an easier copy/paste, which has been a major gripe of ours so far. The onscreen keypad has been tweaked as well for easier typing and support to make Internet calls has been added. For developers, new features would pave the way for graphics-rich games and better sound quality.

Breaking: Schmidt reveals Gingerbread's juicy details… developing

16 Nov

Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, is currently showing off the device we know as the Nexus S at the Web 2.0 Summit 2010. The first juicy bit is that the device will have an NFC chip and Gingerbread will support the technology (duh!). Schmidt is also talking about mobile payments and is hoping that it will be big in the next year with NFC chips.

When asked to comment on what he is most dissatisfied with Android, Schmidt says that he would like to focus more on the apps layer. Iit is difficult to control in an open environment.

Schmidt: I said there will never be a Nexus “Two.”

Relevance of Chrome in an Android era

Schmidt: Android is primarily for devices with a touchscreen while Chrome OS has been designed for a keyboard based device like a netbook. Chrome OS will be available in the coming months while Gingerbread will be rolled out in the coming weeks.

HTC Legend to get Froyo 'in coming weeks'

6 Nov

HTC has announced that the Froyo update for the Legend is almost ready and should be released in the ‘coming weeks.’ The Taiwanese handset vendor, which is now the fourth largest smartphone vendor in the world, is not committing on any timeline for the update. Earlier this year, HTC had revealed that only Android smartphones launched in 2010 will get Froyo (Android 2.2) updates while those like the Hero, which was launched last year, will only be updated till Eclair aka Android 2.1. In all probability, this could be the first and last OS update for the Legend. There is still no word whether and when the Wildfire will be updated to Android 2.2.

SOURCE: HTC Facebook

Video: The Maemo-MeeGo dual-booting N900 is here

26 Oct

It didn’t take that long, did it? We recently reported about the firmware update for the N900 and it could bring an option of dual-booting the device with Maemo and MeeGo. The folks at Maemo Fanatics have posted a video of an N900 doing just that! We won’t keep you waiting, check out the video below and head over to the site to know how you can do that yourself. That is, if you are one of those rare users to have the N900 in the first place.

 

 

SOURCE: Maemo Fanatics

Nokia N900 firmware update brings MeeGo as a dual-boot option

26 Oct

nokia-n900-firmware-update Of all things Nokia is accused of, one thing you have to commend is their dedication to older products by bringing regular software updates. Now take the case of the N900 – it might not have sold in large numbers and some might say that the hardware is past is expiry date, but Nokia is sticking by it. The handset vendor has released a firmware update for the N900 (PR 1.3) that adds a couple of new features. Most notably of those is the addition of Ovi Suite support for syncing the device with a PC and access to Ovi Music Store, which would allow users to download songs over a web browser interface. The third benefit is simply classified as “many performance improvements.” One major improvement that we are hearing from our sources is that it would allow users to dual-boot the device and have MeeGo running on it, provided you know how to hack your way. Now that’s certainly great news for the few hundred N900 users out there.

Gingerbread man checks into Googleplex

24 Oct

We are approaching the announcement for the next Android version aka Gingerbread and following traditions, a huge Gingerbread statue has been delivered to Googleplex. Check out the video below and let the speculations begin about which few smartphones will get official Gingerbread upgrades.



More trouble for Nokia as Symbian Foundation chief quits

20 Oct

First it was Nokia’s CEO Olli, Pekka Kallasvuo, then its veteran and head of smartphone unit, Anssi Vanjoki, to be closely followed by the chief of its upcoming MeeGo operating system Ari Jaaksi. In the latest change of guards, Symbian Foundation’s executive director, Lee Williams, has left the foundation. Like Jaaksi, Williams too cites personal reasons for his decision. The former was snapped up by rival HP to work on webOS. Williams has been replaced by Tim Holbrow, who till now was the Symbian Foundation’s CFO.

 

Nokia had bought Symbian and floated the Symbian Foundation hoping to create a formidable rival to iOS and Android. It wanted the Foundation to be independent of Nokia with the aim of attracting other handset vendors, who would also contribute to developing Symbian. However, Symbian Foundation has so far been unsuccessful as both Samsung and Sony Ericsson made it clear a few months ago that they won’t be launching any Symbian smartphones. Samsung launched its own operating system, Bada, while Sony Ericsson embraced Android. Nokia is the only major handset vendor to still use Symbian, which is now proving to be at least a couple of years behind Android and iOS.

 

Symbian has failed to evolve and even Nokia started looking at MeeGo as the platform for future high-end smartphones. However, the first new devices running MeeGo are expected only next year, which means that Nokia would miss out on the crucial Christmas shopping season. initially, MeeGo smartphones were expected to be launched before the end of 2010. At best, Nokia would now be able to port it to its N900 Internet Tablet, which we think is an outdated piece of hardware and has not been a runaway hit.

 

Considering the current scenario, in all probability Nokia will fail to catch up with Android and iOS even through 2011. Unless Nokia has a hidden operating system up its sleeve or migrates to Android, there seems very little hope for the company to survive in the high-end, high-margin smartphone space. If Android is not an option, Nokia’s only resort could be to manufacture multimedia phones and mid-end business phones in its E-series range. If you ask about MeeGo, we think it would take at least a year to mature but by then both iOS and Android would be out of Nokia’s reach.

RIM harks back at Steve Jobs' jabs, questions Apple's claims

20 Oct

andy rubin tweets As the war for smartphone supremacy heats up, especially this close to the Holiday shopping season, the fight gets messier. The arrogance displayed by Steve Jobs yesterday is not going down well with Apple’s competitors. While Google remained largely tight-lipped if you discount this Tweet by Andy Rubin, RIM’s Jim Balsillie was not amused. The co-CEO lashed out on Apple in a blog post that refers to Apple’s distortion field in its title and raised questions “whether Apple’s Q4 results were padded by unfulfilled Q3 customer demand and channel orders.” Apart from references to RIM’s own shipment guidance for the previous quarter, Balsillie raised the ‘Flash support’ argument and not to forget Antennagate! Here’s the post in its entirety. Things will just get messier from here, we reckon.

 

For those of us who live outside of Apple’s distortion field, we know that 7” tablets will actually be a big portion of the market and we know that Adobe Flash support actually matters to customers who want a real web experience. We also know that while Apple’s attempt to control the ecosystem and maintain a closed platform may be good for Apple, developers want more options and customers want to fully access the overwhelming majority of web sites that use Flash. We think many customers are getting tired of being told what to think by Apple. And by the way, RIM has achieved record shipments for five consecutive quarters and recently shared guidance of 13.8 – 14.4 million BlackBerry smartphones for the current quarter. Apple’s preference to compare its September-ending quarter with RIM’s August-ending quarter doesn’t tell the whole story because it doesn’t take into account that industry demand in September is typically stronger than summer months, nor does it explain why Apple only shipped 8.4 million devices in its prior quarter and whether Apple’s Q4 results were padded by unfulfilled Q3 customer demand and channel orders. As usual, whether the subject is antennas, Flash or shipments, there is more to the story and sooner or later, even people inside the distortion field will begin to resent being told half a story.

– Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO at Research In Motion (RIM)