For the last few years, Business Insider has made a name for itself by finding a way to point out the negative implications of current technology news on Apple Inc. So, I was surprised to read Jay Yarrow's post, It's Pretty Clear That Apple Is Winning The War With Samsung, which discusses the many ways that Apple's premium product strategy is producing benefits for Apple, while increased competition seems to be squeezing Samsung in ways that hurt their bottom line.
This article is making the rounds of the Pro-Apple blogs and websites today. But it's important to stop and consider what it's saying.
The squeeze that's on Samsung results from forces at both ends of the market. According to Yarrow, "At the high end it's competing with Apple. Apple isn't going anywhere. It remains strong thanks to a sterling brand, high-quality phones, and iOS, the best mobile operating system in the world."
Apple has a huge advantage in terms of its ability to control the total user experience on the iPhone and the iPad. The strategy it uses of one coordinated hardware and software release per year is not only making device choice easier for its users; It's also allowing third-party developers the time to release apps that take advantage of new features almost as soon as they are released.
There are a lot of Smartphone users in the United States who are in denial of the difference in quality between Android and iOS, the terrible impact that practical limitations and restrictions of Android version upgrades are having on that user community, and how much the open platform and "ship it first" mentality of Google and its licensees is a major security incident waiting to happen.
Samsung cannot compete with Apple at many levels because it doesn't have complete control of the operating system on which its flagship smartphones operate. As such, it cannot optimize the low-level features of the OS for its devices. Many people look at the continued inclusion of replaceable batteries and ultra power saving modes in Samsung Galaxy devices as great features. I would argue they are not great features, so much as they are practical reactions to the limited control that Samsung has over Android's performance on Samsung's hardware.
Jay Yarrow's article also says, "At the low-end of the market it's competing with upstarts like Chinese phone maker Xiaomi and an army of Android phone makers that use Android. There's little reason for a consumer to pay a premium for Samsung phones instead of a Samsung clone."
I would personally love to see Xiaomi enter the U.S. market in a larger way, because it would give people who like Android a sense of how to market Android with panache. However, I see a lot of similarities between Xiaomi's marketing in Asia and Apple's marketing in North America, and I wonder if they would be hurt by the conclusion that Xiaomi is taking too much of a "me too" approach.