Samsung and Apple have been going head to head for quite some time. However, there will always be a clear winner of this war and that’s the consumers. We get the benefits of all the toil and trouble, because it pushes innovation greatly. There are two major battles taking place, currently. There is the hardware war going on between the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the iPhone 5 and then the head to head patent war. You might think that Apple is coming out on top, but recent numbers show that Samsung has pulled ahead in the races. A recent report by Strategy Analytics indicates that Samsung handset sales have exceeded Apple’s during Q2 2013, with an estimated profit of $5.2 billion versus Apple’s $4.6 billion. Part of this success is attributed to high sales and strict pricing control, as the Galaxy S4 in its various incarnations received critical praise and adoption among users. Q2 2013 has been slower overall for smartphone sales than projected, so neither Apple nor Samsung are seeing the levels of profit they were expecting compared to smartphone sales numbers in Q2 2012.
The strategies that both companies are taking are rather divergent. Apple focuses on a small, focused product line. Phone upgrades come at a fairly steady, but not too rapid pace, and a lot of Apple’s current efforts are going into bringing iOS 7 to market. Samsung, on the other hand, is casting its net far and wide with a handful of variations on the base Galaxy S4. One of the most interesting niche products essentially combines a full out digital camera with the S4 hardware. It remains to be seen whether or not carving out niches for specialty editions is a net gain for the S4, or something that degrades sales figures overall.
While Samsung is pulling out ahead of Apple on smartphone sales, it still lags behind in the tablet market. Apple’s tablet market share is currently at 40 percent, while Samsung sits at 18 percent according to IDC. Asus, Amazon, and Microsoft carry the bottom end of tablet marketshare. Tablet adoption is up over 140 percent compared to last year, and the market continues to expand throughout 2013. Since Apple has strong dominance in this market segment, app development hasn’t been skewed to Android-based devices even with Samsung’s handset market share. iOS remains the stronger app store for developers due to better sales and uniform hardware specifications, both issues when it comes to Android based devices.
Samsung needs to make it easier and more lucrative for developers to start with them, otherwise innovation could pass them by – regardless of their hardware dominance. Without a developer community to support your hardware, you will fall behind. It’s very common in Silicon Valley for folks to launch on the iPhone first. It was a running joke a few years ago at TechCrunch that your Android app was “coming soon.” Hearing that statement over and over again made me think they were saying “the check is in the mail.” Without stronger incentives to develop on Android, developers will keep going back to Apple.