What do iPhone competitor smartphones look like? iPhones. From the day Steve Jobs’ creation debuted in 2007, the entire smartphone industry has worked to be like Apple. Highest on the list of copycats is Samsung.
Think about this. Apple doesn’t really make much that runs in an iPhone. iOS, yes. What else? Apple designs its own CPUs; manufactured by someone else. Apple designs its own display specifications, which are made by someone else. Someone else? Samsung, iPhone’s arch enemy.
Design vs. Build
The whole smartphone industry is an interesting view of organized chaos. Apple, the industry leader in revenue, profits, and mindshare, doesn’t really make much of anything in iPhone except the operating system. Other smartphone makers stuff all kinds of components into their wares but Google’s Android drives most of them.
That leaves Samsung as a different animal because the Korean conglomerate makes some of the best smartphone components available on planet earth (along with washers and dryers and copiers and televisions, et al). The best displays? Samsung. The fastest RAM? Samsung. The fastest SSD storage? Samsung. They even have their own CPU designs. Samsung’s premium line of Galaxy smartphones are compared to the latest iPhones ad nauseam.
Think about that situation for a moment. Samsung designs and builds, arguably, of course, all the major components for premium smartphones (and, less than premium phones; outselling Apple in unit sales numbers)– some of them for Apple– yet the iPhone remains the premium brand that rakes in the most revenue, the most profits, and the highest mindshare.
What’s the problem?
Why can’t Samsung knock Apple out of contention? After all, Samsung makes many of the industry’s best components, and sells some of the best premium smartphones on the Android side of the fence? Clearly, Samsung wants to be like Apple.
What’s the problem?
Class. Or, lack of. Polish. Or, lack of.
Apple integrates components better than any smartphone maker because Apple designs the whole package; hardware and software. Meanwhile, Samsung remains hindered by the Android ammunition that Google gives away free to competitors. Cheap Android smartphones in the $200-$300 range run the same software as a $960 Samsung Galaxy S9+. Sure, the Galaxy line has better cameras and displays, but the software– which is what you use– remains about the same as cheap-assed Android devices from no-name makers.
Apple’s iOS 12 will be on the streets in a couple of months, and true to form, this major update will bring new life to old iPhones. iPhone 5s arrived in late summer, five years ago, and yet it will run iOS 12. So will an iPad mini 2. And everything in between. Apple’s upgrades to new versions are so seamless and easy to implement that even five year old devices get a new lease on life.
In other words, iPhones get better every year. That advantage is what Samsung and most Android makers do not have; an advantage that helps to give iPhones a higher resale value, and often a lower ToC (total cost of ownership) despite a premium price.
Samsung might want to clobber Apple in the marketplace, but it’s a knife that cuts both ways because Apple buys plenty of iPhone components from Samsung.
Competitive symbiosis, anyone?