Farhad Manjoo for Slate on the rise of Samsung:
This flood-the-market strategy isn’t elegant. It can be confusing for customers, a pain for Samsung’s carrier partners, and very difficult for the firm’s engineers and designers to keep up with. It also doesn’t have history on its side. Other firms that have tried the build-everything approach—see Apple in the early 1990s, or Hewlett-Packard over the last decade—eventually begin to lumber under their own complexity.
Yet Samsung’s strategy is extremely well suited to our current tech era. We live in a time of profound transition, when the future of everything is up in the air. The world’s tech-addled masses are switching from desktop devices to mobile ones, from bulky programs to sleek apps, from limited local storage to acres of space in the clouds. When everything is in flux, predicting what will be hot a year from now—“skating to where the puck is going to be,” to quote Steve Jobs quoting Wayne Gretzky—becomes all but impossible. Samsung’s strategy is to put a man at every spot on the ice. Be in enough places and you’re bound to catch something no one was predicting—like, for instance, the world’s bizarre love affair with phablets.
It’s fascinating that, despite copying some of Apple’s products, Samsung’s overall approach is almost the exact opposite of Apple’s (many vs. few). Even more fascinating: it’s working.