#samsung

Brent Rose writes up his initial thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy S 4 (S4? SIV?) for Gizmodo. It almost reads like so many new iPhone initial thoughts these days — “the same, but a little better”. Except that it seems that on top of the good, smaller iterations, Samsung added a bunch of stupid shit that no one will use as well.

Air View? Air Gesture? Smart Scroll? Smart Pause? I’m reminded of the the Dr. Ian Malcolm line from Jurassic Park, “But your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

The actual product update combined with the release event debacle just reaffirms my believe that Apple is making a mistake even acknowledging Samsung here. (The site update today is less of a mistake because it just calls out why the iPhone is great — though it’s also clearly in reaction to all of this.) If it looks like you’re trying to trip your rival after they’ve already shot themselves in the foot, no one wins. 

John Gruber:

By profit share, on the other hand, according to Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley, last year Apple took 69 percent of the handset industry’s profits; Samsung took 34. For just the last quarter, the numbers were 72 percent for Apple, 29 for Samsung. You will note that both the annual and quarterly numbers total more than 100 percent; that is because all other handset makers, combined, are losing money. This is rather astounding — Apple and Samsung have together destroyed the rest of the mobile handset industry.

Great piece on defining “winning” and “losing” in the smartphone space. You’d think the amount of money a company makes would be a good metric since it ensures long-term viability of said company. But most of the tech press seems to feel otherwise. Because they’re bored.

Yesterday, I noted the oddities of Phil Schiller’s interview with WSJ on the eve of the unveiling of the Samsung Galaxy S4. Among them, I noted that he didn’t mention “Samsung” once, but rather only referred to “Android”. But Schiller also apparently spoke with Poornima Gupta of Reuters:

"And that extends to the news we are hearing this week that the Samsung Galaxy S4 is being rumored to ship with an OS that is nearly a year old," he said. "Customers will have to wait to get an update."

Schiller pointed to multiple research from third parties that showed that people who have iOS devices actually use them more than people who own Android devices, and more than half of iOS users are using the latest version of the software.

Okay, so he did mention “Samsung” here and actually called out the specific device. But this is even more strange to me. Not only did Schiller attempt to pre-empt the Samsung event by granting a rare media interview, he apparently went on what would be Apple’s equivalent of a media blitz. Two interviews in one day?!

Everything Schiller says, of course, is correct. But this still strikes me as odd and I’m not sure that any positives (maybe changing some public perception about the S4) would outweigh negatives (giving the appearance of Apple being defensive). 

[via @markgurman]

I’m not sure which is more strange:

1) That Phil Schiller would say anything the day before a big Samsung event.

2) That Phil Schiller would say anything, period.

3) That Schiller doesn’t mention Samsung, but mentions Android.

4) That WSJ sort of throws him under the bus with their headline (and rightfully so, in this case). It’s so rare for this type of interview; normally you only see one that is heavily teed-up to help Apple in some way. The very lede: “Apple Inc. is on the defensive.” — does not help Apple in any way, shape, or form. Good for WSJ.

5) That this article has two authors — Ian Sherr and Jessica E. Lessin — and it’s less than 300 words.

I guess you could argue that Apple is fighting up here, since Android is “winning” the market share battle. But I fail to see how this statement is a smart maneuver. It makes Apple look vulnerable. Weird.

Sarah Perez of TechCrunch on Samsung’s fake-turned-real “Unicorn Apocalpyse” ads:

And the whole point of the commercial series was that Samsung devices helped the Unicorn Apocalypse team work better together to make the game a success.

So is the lasting takeaway from the actual game’s launch, and subsequent suckiness is…what?

That maybe they should have used iPhones?

The ads are great — until reality hits.

Ingrid Lunden for TechCrunch:

The new HTC One unveiled last month is increasingly feeling like last-chance saloon for the troubled Taiwan handset maker. Today HTC noted that its sales for the month of February fell by nearly 44% to 11.37 billion Taiwan dollars ($384 million), from NT$20.3 billion for the same month one year ago. Looking at the bigger picture, that NT$11.37 billion is barely higher than what HTC made in January 2010, when it reported NT$11.12 billion in sales.

This follows a quarter in which profit fell 91 percent. And that followed a quarter in which profit dropped 79 percent.

This is a two-horse race. Apple is winning the U.S. and Samsung is winning the rest of the world (with Huawei being an up-and-coming wildcard). It’s that simple.

Yes, there are other companies which help extend Android’s market share but none of them can seem to make any money. That’s not a viable long-term strategy

Amir Efrati for WSJ:

But Mr. Rubin also said Samsung could become a threat if it gains more ground among mobile-device makers that use Android, the person said. Mr. Rubin said Google’s recent acquisition of Motorola Mobility, which makes Android-based smartphones and tablets, served as a kind of insurance policy against a manufacturer such as Samsung gaining too much power over Android, the person said. Google said Mr. Rubin wasn’t available for an interview.

I mean, how much more ground would Samsung have to gain? It absolutely dominates the Android landscape right now:

Samsung has increased its lead in Android-based smartphones, claiming 40.2% of the market in the fourth quarter, up from 38.7% a year earlier, according to IDC. Huawei Technologies Co. was in second place, with 6.6%, the same as a year earlier.

Basically everything in this article is the opposite of what Google has said publicly on the matter, but none of it should be surprising. 

The news will probably send the stock plummeting another 20%.

But really, some interesting NPD data here reported by Neil Hughes for AppleInsider:

Apple’s revenue easily beat out rival Samsung, which came in second with 9.3 percent, up from 7 percent in 2011. The rest of the top five saw their share of revenue fall in 2012: HP dipped from 8.9 percent in 2011 to 8.2 percent last year, while Sony and Dell both slid to 4.4 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

Two are horsemen, the rest are has-beens.

And:

Together, Apple and Samsung accounted for $6.5 billion in increased sales in 2012. Meanwhile, the rest of the consumer technology industry saw sales decline by almost $9.5 billion in the U.S.

See: above.

And:

The top five categories for consumer electronics in the U.S. were notebooks, flat-panel TVs, smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. Together, they accounted for 53 percent of sales in 2012, up from 49 percent in 2011.

One of these categories is not like the others…

But:

The only two categories in the top five to see year-over-year growth were tablets and smartphones, markets where Apple competes with the iPad and iPhone.

Perhaps until Apple enters the one market above that they’re not in yet…

One more link to Michal Lev-Ram’s story on Samsung for Fortune to highlight this tidbit:

In the late 1960s Samsung officially entered the electronics business. In the early years the company was known for cheap televisions and air conditioners. That all changed in 1995, when its chairman (and the elder Lee’s son), Kun-Hee Lee, paid a momentous visit to the company’s plant in Gumi, a factory town in south-central Korea. Legend has it that the younger Lee had sent out the company’s newest mobile phones as New Year’s presents and was horrified when word came back that they didn’t work. Later, at Gumi, he made a giant heap of the factory’s entire inventory and had it set on fire.

That’s how you send a message. It reminds me of this Steve Jobs quote:

When I got back here in 1997, I was looking for more room, and I found an archive of old Macs and other stuff. I said, ‘Get it away!’ and I shipped all that shit off to Stanford. If you look backward in this business, you’ll be crushed. You have to look forward.

We don’t own the ecosystem because we’ve chosen up to this point not to innovate in that direction.

Justin Denison, Samsung’s VP of strategy and market intelligence, talking to Michal Lev-Ram of Fortune (or CNNMoney or Money or something — who the hell is in charge of this branding?).

Obviously, he’s talking about Samsung’s strategy of partnering on mobile OSes. Most notably, of course, with Android. Just in case you need it spelled out for you, focus on: "up to this point".