That’s the nature of business. Some companies are more blatant about copying features or functionality than others. When an arbitrary line is crossed, lawsuits or licensing agreements usually follow. When it comes to Apple vs. competitors, the secrets to success vary substantially.
R & D? Or, Xerography?
Regarding modern mobile devices, specifically smartphones and tablets, there are two major players in the industry, each with a measure of success to tout, though by different means.
Apple and Samsung. What about Google? If profit is a measure of success, then Google need not apply as the company’s Android platform seems to benefit only Samsung.
Other players in the industry– Motorola, HTC, BlackBerry, Nokia, Amazon, Microsoft (or PC makers venturing into tablets)– have yet to display significant marketshare for competing devices, let alone profits.
No, among mobile device makers, it’s a battle between Apple and Samsung, and the secrets to their success are surprisingly similar, yet not unexpectedly different in substance.
Apple’s iOS devices–iPhone and iPad– are high quality products combined with an active and robust ecosystem, which generates substantial revenue and most of the industry’s profits.
Imitation Is Flattery
One could easily argue that when it comes to premium mobile devices, Apple is Samsung’s research and development arm. I can almost picture Samsung’s R&D building as a colossal copying machine, which takes in Apple’s latest devices and spits out copies with the Samsung logo.
While Apple focuses on a limited line of products with a tightly integrated OS and ecosystem to create revenue and profits, Samsung splatters the market with dozens of devices in all shapes, sizes, colors, and capabilities, itself a somewhat profitable strategy for the technology conglomerate (they make washing machines and televisions, too).
Samsung’s early successes in the modern smartphone and tablet arena were nearly atomic level copies of Apple’s successful iPhone and iPad. That copycat gamble ranged from hardware to software to television commercials and brought about lawsuits, convictions, and fines, which have damaged Samsung’s already tattered public image as a company run by rulers without rules.
Nothing To Copy
Obviously, being accused and convicted of copying Apple’s designs and methodology took a toll on Samsung’s executives. In a vain attempt to prove the company’s mobile device efforts were not all examples of digital xerography, Samsung beat Apple, Google, and Microsoft to market with the so-called smartwatch, the Galaxy Gear.
Or, should I say, stupidwatch, a monicker which more appropriately describes the Gear device’s functionality and capability, an adjective picked up and used ad nauseam in the blogosphere? Galaxy Gear has been castigated by technology pundits who often point out that Gear is an unusable device because Samsung simply didn’t have a product from Apple to copy.
Samsung’s brazen copying techniques have no bounds, as evidenced by the less than subtle similarities between Apple’s original 2007 iPhone television commercial vs. Samsung’s recently released Galaxy Gear commercial.
The difference, of course, is that Apple’s iPhone disrupted the smartphone industry, while Samsung’s attempt at original innovation was universally panned by critics. Until suitable replacements are found (an effort already ongoing), Apple may need Samsung for various and sundry components in the iPhone and iPad. However, Samsung truly needs Apple to create new products for the Korean company to copy.