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.

Tim Culpan for Bloomberg on HTC’s most recent quarter:

Fourth-quarter operating income for the period was NT$600 million ($21 million), compared with the NT$1.11 billion average of 20 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Net income was NT$1 billion, the Taoyuan, Taiwan-based company said in a statement today. That’s the lowest since 2004 and less than the NT$10.9 billion it posted a year earlier.

Not good, But Bloomberg dances around the truly stunning number, Sky News does not:

The Taiwanese firm, whose phones include the Butterfly, said net profit in the fourth quarter of 2012 had missed forecasts and plunged 91% year on year.

Ninety-one percent.

The Android ecosystem isn’t alive and well, the Samsung one is. Expect to hear a lot more out of this story in 2013.



Student of many. Master of none.

I think laptops can benefit from touch screens, but that doesn’t mean we should consider them tablets. Laptops, phones, and tablets all play different parts in my work or play. And, for me, they each need to be no compromise machines.

It’s very interesting to see Microsoft (becasue those are Microsoft even though it is an HP machine) and Samsung advertising with the word “best” in reference to a device they’re trying to say does two things. 

And you can eat the cake too, right?

Chico Harlan, reporting for The Washington Post:

The pace of problems is accelerating. Sony hasn’t made a profit in four years. Panasonic has lost money in three of the past four. Along with Sharp, the companies’ combined market value, according to Bloomberg, is $32 billion — making them one-fifth the value of Samsung and one-twentieth the value of Apple.

The smartphone angle here is obvious. So is the pricing squeeze angle. Not-so-obvious: the complete and utter failure of each of these companies to understand the importance of software tying in with hardware.