And they’re different things. Once upon a time, Apple’s big bogeyman was Microsoft, and before that, long long before, it was IBM. Times have changed, but there’s seemingly always someone in the bogeyman position, and if anything, these days, there are two – and the two are about equal, as far as Apple is concerned: Google and Samsung. (Meanwhile, Microsoft and IBM are developing benevolent partnerships with Apple on various fronts.)
I’m not having a tilt at Samsung here — it’s just a good tech company that creates an often-excellent range of products as far as I’m concerned. The rivalry has much to do perception – as soon as Samsung started making slim smartphones running Google’s Android OS, the tech titans were going to clash. Is it personal? I don’t think so, as far as Samsung is concerned. Samsung hardly had the choice to make a phone to run iOS, after all. Although some of the Samsung smartphones and tablets have been embarrassingly (perhaps that word should be ‘expensively’) similar to Apple’s,
the Google rivalry is another matter.
That is personal. Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt was on Apple’s board, and Steve Jobs took it very personally when Google launched its copy I mean competitor to iOS (ie, Android). That personality thing seems to have permeated Apple’s culture, as Steve Jobs is no longer there. Generally speaking, Apple has fared well through the whole thing, going from record profit to profit record, although people who covet iPhones and iPads have clearly turned to cheaper devices running Android since the differences aren’t that powerful, once it comes down to the dollar, to them. Beggars can be choosers, with modern tech – and that’s a good thing.
One rather odd area that Google has kinda won is that of email: I meet droves of happy Apple users who, strangely, use Gmail email rather than Apple’s iCloud email accounts. Apple has failed somehow here – an iCloud account is ‘as free’ and internationally useful (independent of localised ISPs) as Gmail accounts, except iCloud works way better on Apple computers and devices, and it’s way more secure. Apple, unlike Google, doesn’t think privacy is some kind of joke.
I honestly think the difference between the two is the signup – many people miss the prompt to get a free iCloud account (email@example.com) when they first sign up to iCloud’s synching etc, and lots of PC users tell them ‘just get a gmail account’ so they go online and find it immediately, and sign up. I meet lots of Apple users with problematic, improperly working and bad-at-synching Gmail accounts when they could be using excellent, perfectly-synching iCloud accounts for the same cost (ie, for free).
I do realise people often simply don’t notice things. For example, there are TWO models of iPhone 6, yet almost invariably, if I show someone an iPhone 6 they say ‘I thought it was bigger.’ Er, yes, the big Plus model is even bigger. There are two distinct sizes of iPhone 6. You honestly haven’t seen the ads or even one website showing both models?
Anyway, I digress — the fallout from the Google-Apple rivalry seems to be affecting Samsung more than Google, even though they both have many irons in the tech fire, so to speak. The South Korean giant (which has supplied many components for Apple over the years) has suffered plummeting profitability due, according to some, to a major drop in its low-priced, high-volume phones and tablets. Samsung announced a frighteningly steep 73.9% drop in its mobile division profits for the third quarter. The problem seems to be a boom in buyers of its low-end smartphones – which is great, welcoming more people into the smartphone era, with all that’s offered by the pocket-tech – but the low and medium models are nowhere near as profitable as high-end smartphones … or iPhones.
Does that mean that iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is beating Samsung down, despite its price? As I remarked a couple of weeks back, Samsung sold a third the number of its latest top model compared to iPhone 6 … in Korea. It’s been a race to the margins for Samsung, unfortunately. Apple doesn’t do ‘cheap’ – it sometimes does ‘slightly less’, is all.
And by the way, Samsung — you still haven’t paid Apple the US1 billion you owe for losing that patent infringement court case … and that was two years ago.