Samsung is a completely different beast. This is the electronics company that could be the poster child for paranoia and desperation. Both are winners but their methodology could not be more different.
Desperation In The Culture
We know enough about Apple’s culture and methods not to devote too much time to the obvious. Apple is ingrained with a gee whiz attitude when it comes to products, usability, and features.
Apple is highly disciplined, but in a much different way. Apple products exude cool, evoke durability and friendliness, and spur competitors into copy mode.
Samsung, too, is highly disciplined, but instead of having a culture ingrained with a childlike wonder for clever devices loved by the masses, this company is paranoid and desperate.
How so, Kate? It’s the culture. Korea is a relatively small country, seemingly always in a state of war or readiness for war (read the headlines about North Korean provocations), placed between the second and third largest economies on the planet. Chine to one side, Japan to the other.
To keep from being overshadowed by the two nearby giants, many Korean companies have adopted a desperate mentality; their survival as a nation depends upon successfully competing with larger countries.
Apple wins the hearts and minds of hundreds of millions of customers by designing and building products we love to own, love to use, and admire. Samsung doesn’t have that same rapport with customer, but executives are smart enough to know a good thing when they see it, hence the company’s rapid moves to copy the successes of others.
Copy? Please. Samsung turned the company inside out to copy both iPhone and iPad almost overnight, and lost a billion dollar court case as proof of their ability to copy almost to the atomic level.
In some locales, Samsung stores are obvious ripoffs of Apple’s famed retail outlets. Now, there’s word that Samsung is going head-to-head with Apple with store-within-a-store settings in Best Buy’s numerous retail outlets.
Samsung’s executives are smart enough to know that clinging close to Apple’s design and marketing esthetic also works to segregate the Galaxy maker from the riffraff of common Android smartphone manufacturers. The recent launch of the highly anticipated Galaxy S4 was mostly devoid of the word Android.
In the Korean electronic giant’s eyes, its not iPhone vs. Android. It’s iPhone vs. Galaxy. It’s Apple vs. Samsung. Everyone else is vying for third place, where the also ran group lives (Amazon, HTC, BlackBerry, Nokia, Microsoft).
Samsung customizes the Galaxy line so much that it doesn’t even appear similar to other Android infected products, but takes a public posture as an innovator (copying is innovating in Korea) to be compared with Apple, not others.
How’s that working out so far? Only Apple and Samsung show any significant profits from smartphone and tablets, while others lose billions of dollars. You’ve got to hand it to Samsung. They saw the future and copied it right away while competitors snoozed to lose.
Samsung also knows how to posture against Apple’s premium brand. How? Not by lowering the price of the recently launched Galaxy S4 iPhone 5 killer, but by raising the price $50. In the U.S., a similarly equipped Galaxy S4 is priced higher than an iPhone. That’s chutzpah. That’s hubris. But that’s also a pathway to success, bred by a curious cultural mixture of paranoia and desperation.