Samsung’s Delusions of Relevance

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I've been wrestling with the right way to put this for weeks. There was something about Samsung that's been bugging me since the Bizarro World media event to introduce the Galaxy S4 back in March, but I couldn't put my finger on it.

At first I was thinking the company had delusions of grandeur, but that wasn't it. Samsung really is a grand company. It has accomplished a lot, and the company has innovative hardware in a number of industries.

Then I started thinking that Samsung was suffering from delusions that it could be Apple, and it clearly has delusional aspirations in building an ecosystem around its smartphones. Neither of those bullet points was the thing that was bugging me. I had something specific niggling the back of my brain, and I wanted to find that crystalline way of expressing it.

It hit me yesterday after reading about Samsung's Smart App Challenge 2013: Samsung has delusions of relevance.

Samsung Co-CEO Lee Kun-hee

Lee Kun-hee—one of Samsung's three CEOs—and our artist's rendition of his custom vision-aids.

Delusions

That's what has been bugging me for a while now. Samsung has been strutting around as if it has accomplished something significant, but the reality is that it hasn't, at least not in the world of smartphones.

At this point, I'll understand if you dismiss me as someone with my own delusions. After all, Samsung has the biggest chunk of global smartphone sales, and the company's share of smartphone profits is second only to Apple. Both shares have been growing, too, in part because of Samsung's success at the high end of the market with the Galaxy Note II and both the Galaxy S3 and the new Galaxy S4.

Hear me out, because that's nothing more than a short term look at a tiny sliver of the big picture, and it's the big picture where I think there's some cognitive dissonance happening in Seoul.

Let's go back to the GS4 media event. I wrote a lengthy piece talking about how weird that event was with its awful skits, casual misogamy, and weird pacing. It was also weird due to the absence of a key player, Google.

Samsung didn't mention Google once, and it didn't mention Android, either. Not once. The company didn't even mention Google Now, the killer app for Android in my not-at-all humble opinion. Samsung should have been singing the message that the GS4 is the best Google Now device on the planet.

Instead, Samsung focused on its own software features that it piles on top of Android. The fascinating thing is that a couple of those features are redundant to features built in to Android.

Let's take a moment to think about that. The level of hubris required for Samsung to put S Voice on top of Android's far better voice control and interaction is staggering. The same is true for S Translator.

Apples and Oranges

But wait! I can hear some of you ask. That's what Apple did with Maps when it replaced the Google-powered original Maps app with its in-house Maps app. If you want hubris, I still hear you say, look no further than Apple!

The two situations are not only different, they speak to my broader point. While Apple flubbed the Maps rollout—Apple Maps should have been introduced as a beta alongside the Google-powered service until it was ready—the reality is that Apple has the power, the talent, and ability to make Apple Maps a best-in-class service.

Does anyone think that S Translator will ever be as good, let alone better, than Google Translate? Will S Voice ever be as good as either Apple's Siri or Google's voice controls?

I certainly don't, and that's the other part of this comparison. Apple's move was predicated on the hard fact that it couldn't leave a core service like mapping on its mobile OS remain under the control of a bitter rival like Google.

Apple had to take over Maps in iOS so that it could control feature updates. Apple couldn't allow those feature updates to be bargaining chips as they had become between Apple and Google.

Google was in the position to use those bargaining chips to try to gain access to customer data while simultaneously using those features to make Android more attractive.

Samsung can't make those arguments because Samsung licenses Android. Samsung doesn't control the software for its hardware, and there is no Samsung ecosystem. There's no real benefit to pulling out individual pieces of that software—or in this case piling on RAM-gobbling redundant software features—that I can see.

(As an aside, that's why I'm so excited about Google's de-Samsunged GS4.)

Software Isn't Hardware

This is especially true when Samsung isn't good at the software side of things. An honest look at Apple will see a company that can make Maps great, but the best thing Samsung has done on the software side is to deliberately copy Apple, and that's not a legacy on which to build your future.

Samsung had a proprietary OS called Bada. That failed. Samsung's software interface that gets in the way of Android is called TouchWiz. No one likes it.

Samsung isn't a software company, it's a hardware company. Like Dell. Like HP. Like Asus. Like Acer. Like Gateway. Like HTC. Like Motorola Mobility. Like ZTC and Hauwei.

So when we go back to that media event, we get the feeling that Samsung thinks it can build its own ecosystem—perhaps with Android, or maybe with Tizen, the Linux-based mobile OS being backed by Intel, Samsung, and others.

Then there's Samsung Smart App Challenge 2013, where the company is putting up a cool US$800,000 in prizes for developers to make apps using a GS4-specific API called Group Play. This also suggests that Samsung thinks it can build an ecosystem around its hardware.

But it's nonsense. As noted above, Samsung is just a hardware OEM. Yes, they have coders (with no history of success). Despite Samsung's stunning success right now as a hardware OEM, despite the fact that it builds most of the components of its high end smartphones in-house and with subsidiaries, the lack of control over the software means that Samsung's Android dominance is fragile.

HTC could get it right and earn enough profits to eat away at Samsung's share. The Chinese OEMs could do the same. And if Google ever wakes up to the fact that it owns its own hardware division (Motorola Mobility), Samsung doesn't stand a chance.

Forking Android won't help judging by Samsung's lack of software success, and my prediction is that Tizen will end up being an expensive joke for all parties concerned.

Must Have Been the Right Place...

At the end of the day, Samsung remains a good hardware company that took advantage of being in the right place at the right time. The company's executives allowed themselves to mistake that for true relevance.

Don't feel bad for them, though. Samsung will always have its component business and crony capitalism stranglehold on the South Korean economy to fall back on.

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26 Comments Leave Your Own

GreatGazoo

What you say doesn’t surprise me in the least.  From personal experience Samsung is a company that is willing to share the pie with other companies .... just long enough to learn and absorb.  Once they feel they are ready, the pull all aspects of pie making in-house.  They’re also willing to take several shots at taking over all aspects of pie making.  Cases in point: Samsung first licensed the Alpha processor from DEC in an attempt to break into the processor market.  That flopped, but set the stage for partnering with Apple to gain experience with ARM processors.  They also partnered with IBM and Global Foundries to help them move from being a memory centric fab to a logic foundry, but it’s looking more and more that the Samsung “foundries” are focused on Samsung divisions.  Look how well those moves have helped them become a processor centric company.  You talked about BADA, that was their first attempt (like the DEC Alpha).  Google Android has helped them establish their smartphone marketshare.  They are now working hard to shove Android into the background by making the Samsung user interface center stage, even to the point of creating “redundant” applications to replace as much of Android as they think they can get away with.  Once they are successful in separating the user interface from the operating system in the minds of the consumer, it’s only a matter of time before they replace the underpinnings (Android) with a full Samsung grown OS (BADA+, GOODA, Samdroid, or whatever you want to call it).  It looks to me that they feel they getting close enough to being able to pull Android entirely that they are preparing their customer base for the switch.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I pretty much agree. Samsung makes great hardware. Samsung’s additions to Android are mostly crappy failures that the Android OS is strong enough to tolerate. There is one exception, and that’s note taking on the phablets. Mostly because Google really hasn’t gotten around to doing it right yet.

I liken what Samsung does trying to pry things away from Google to what Apple tried to do with Maps. It’s important that both Sammie and Apple do this, because people like Bryan and me need things to laugh at. And what easier punchline than a big company going out of its lane behaving like it’s entitled to convert customers on one of its services to another of its services? End-users pick up pretty quickly on what sucks and what works, so slapping a brand on something half-assed will never lead to anything better than a colossal embarrassment. But it’s important that they keep deluding themselves and trying!

Paul Goodwin

Good article. It takes both hardware and software expertise ( as well as business and Support expertise) to build an ecosystem. Lots of companies will try and fail. Look at Microsoft.-they’re short on hardware expertise. Motorola had the hardware expertise. Google (as you noted) seems reluctant to really put them in play. All of them have a long way to go to catch up with Apple’s system.

 

CudaBoy

Samsung is thinking big picture. They probably are concerned about the potential of the tail wagging the dog - in this case Google. No doubt when and if they need to bust a move into the OS game, they will. Right now, they have no reason to go into the OS thing as long as they keep eating into Apple’s shares with their hardware set, regardless of OS.

LeFrancoy

The thing that I don’t really get is why everybody is so enthusiastic about Samsung’s inroads in mobile phones sales. To me they are exactly like PC manufacturer’s in the likes of IBM, Compaq, HP, Dell of old. They can have all the market/profit/shipment/whatnot share in the world, it could all mean squat in the span of 3 or 5 years.

Because a Samsung smartphone customer is also an Android customer and could very well buy from another manufacturer in the future (especially if price, availability or the salesperson’s incentive was the main reason for that person to opt for a Samsung phone).

It looks as though Samsung is very well aware of what happened to past PC greats that that built the Windows empire who are not nearly as relevant anymore as they used to be because some other OEM took their spot down the line. And they probably are very happy for what they have accomplished but are realizing that they are also helping the likes of HTC, LG, Motorola and Co. in some way.

KitsuneStudios

There is one exception, and that’s note taking on the phablets. Mostly because Google really hasn’t gotten around to doing it right yet.

Actually, the bigger problem here isn’t Google, it’s Wacom.

There are rumors now that Wacom might be getting into the Tablet PC business, now that the Ultrabook/Windows 8 tech has caught up. There is a lot of tech on the pro-level Wacom Cintiq which simply isn’t available to their “Penabled TabletPC” partners, which would allow Wacom to easily dominate one of the biggest audiences for this class of device.

In Wacom’s desktop lock on the desktop digitizer lock doesn’t extend to the Android though. That market has been pioneered by several independent groups each making their own universally compatible pressure-sensitive stylus APIs, which work for both iOS and Android apps which choose to integrate them. Here, Wacom is the only player to be integrated with the device, making them a marginal player.

As long as they remain tied to the Galaxy note, they remain a bit player. If they spread out to other platforms, Samsung loses it’s edge. Samsung either needs to develop killer pen apps (competing with ArtRage, Sketchbook, Photoshop Touch and others) for the note, or they need to form a partnership for that sort of killer app. Samsing/Wacom/Adobe might pull it off, but I doubt anyone but Samsung sees that at the best option.

Either way, I agree with the article. Samsung has no real means to be a guiding force in the industry, even if they had a coherent path to follow.

mhikl

FacsimileSam is run by a mafia styled family that lives unlawfully doing its damage to whomever gets in its way. That is as simple as it gets. Like the old saying goes, you can put a dress on its back and slap on the lipstick but the pig is still a pig. Squealing and wallowing in its own filth is a sure giveaway.

No insult meant to pigs. At least they serve a purpose.

Checkout this delightful little article: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/tax-evasion-bribery-and-pricefixing-how-samsung-became-the-giant-that-ate-korea-8510588.html

wab95

Bryan:

Love that graphic. The insectile glasses, the rose tint, perfectly capture the absurdity of much of Samsung’s late self-adulation, not to mention their criticism of not only Apple (even labelling Apple an imitator of themselves, no less) but even the soft target of Apple’s customers, which in my view is akin a well-funded, well-supplied professional army gunning after civilians because of their loyalty to the enemy. History says that this is not the strategy to win hearts and minds, but mayhap from behind such tinted glasses, the pages of history are rendered opaque, nay invisible.

Just one parenthetic comment before resuming my theme; one would think that, given Samsung’s billions, they could invest a few thousand to hire marketing consultants to help with global product names. I mean no disrespect, but ‘TouchWiz’? I suppose it could be worse; at least it’s not ‘TouchMyWiz’. If their awkward public release of the S4 taught them anything, hopefully it signalled their need for help with product packaging and the public interface side.

I concur wholeheartedly with your very insightful assessment that what Samsung suffer from is delusions of relevance. I’d say you’ve nailed it.

This addresses LeFrancoy’s question, and others like it, namely why is ‘everybody so enthusiastic about Samsung’s inroads in mobile phone sales’. Actually, and some might take issue with this, but bear with me a moment, they’re not. It’s not about Samsung. Never was, and, I argue, posterity will reinforce this assessment; just give it time.

Why not? Again, history. I have frequently resorted to the martial arts metaphor in describing Apple’s and their competitors because, like martial arts, corporate competition is combat in which not only skill, but psychology and understanding the principles of dominance, and not brute strength, separate victor from vanquished. Shaolin monks have referred to every human activity we do as potentially a form of Gung Fu. Since boxing is the most commercially successful martial art in the West, I often refer Muhammad Ali, now crowned the Athlete of the 20th Century, in these illustrations.

Whether people loved or despised Ali, there was no denying his genius and dominance of the sport that he not only represented, but epitomised and redefined. The majority of his competitors have faded into oblivion, their names known only to boxing aficionados. Nonetheless, many of these competitors had their moment in the spotlight if they gave Ali a run for his money in a given bout, e.g. Oscar Bonavena, Ken Norton, and Larry Holmes. Competitors like these became widely known, not so much for their respective fighting prowess, but because they were contenders with Ali. One need only read the sports columns of the day to see how each of these was portrayed, not so much as a new ‘wonder’ but as the one who could end Ali’s career, take this crown, etc, etc. The only competitor of his day that truly merited recognition as a great in his own right was Joe Frazier; as for the rest, in the main, once dispatched by Ali, they faded into obscurity. The point is, the attention and interest was never about them; it was about Ali.

The same, I argue, is at play with Apple wherever they have a stake and/or dominant position (dominant here meaning mindshare, which is where this present-day competition for recognition is being waged); no more conspicuously so than in the case of Samsung - a company that, prior to their competition with Apple in smartphones, scarcely excited a ripple of interest from anyone. Anyone at all. They only garnered attention after their having made an iPhone look-a-like, and they retained that attention as their sales came to rival those of Apple when other competitors failed to do so. As for adulation; Samsung target Apple’s customers who queue for new product releases in an effort to lampoon the phenomenon, in a tacit admission that they do not receive the same. Were there adoring Samsung fans queuing overnight for Galaxies (or anything else Samsung), would they lampoon the practice? Unlikely.

Furthermore, try to find an article in which Samsung’s smartphone/tablet sales (that is the key word, ‘sales’) are mentioned in which there is no mention of Apple. In my experience, tthese are as rare as hen’s teeth. And look at the captions of those new product releases; what type of ‘killer’ is predominantly described; iPhone or Galaxy killer? iPad or whatever-Samsung-call-their-tablet-this-time killer?

This is Apple mindshare at work, with collateral benefit to competitors. Unless Samsung can successfully differentiate their competitive space, carve a new niche or table something truly revolutionary, they will continue to ride Apple’s mindshare momentum, rather like a Remora attached to a Great White Shark. It may go where the great predator goes, and even feed on what that majestic beast feeds, but it’s no shark; just a lucky opportunist.

GreatGazoo

@WAB95:  Product naming in S. Korea has always been a bit odd.  On various trips to the country I saw the following candies/drinks on sale in the stores: Brain, Crunky, Scorched Rice Candy, Pocari Sweat, Pis, and many others.  grin

MediaCritiquerdotcom

How’s this for relevance:  without Android, there’s no Samsung smartphone success; without Samsung hardware, there is no iPhone+iPad.  This article is just oozing with anything but objectivity and journalistic integrity.  It’s obvious to those not in the choir to which you’re preaching.

MacPC

Your article assumes Samsung has delusions of relevance.  It’s the world’s number one smartphone maker.  Its components make the iPhone possible.  It has invested billions in a chip manufacturing plant IN THE US of A.  It is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in R&D facilities in Silicon Valley.  These last 2 points provide real high-tech jobs in manufacturing and R&D IN THE US of A.  I use Apple and think it is an excellent OS and business model.  Your “article” and thesis is simply irrelevant in light of the facts.  Are you saying Samsung is not relevant?  If it is relevant, then there can be no delusions.  Either way, to opine that the world’s top smartphone maker is not relevant, and thus, has ‘delusions’ of relevance is, well, irrelevant.  Samsung (and HP, BlackBerry, Palm, etc.) were making smartphones decades before Apple; your school of thought seemingly assumes Apple invented the smartphone from scratch.

clear

...the reality is that Apple has the power, the talent, and ability to make Apple Maps a best-in-class service.

Dude - Apple maps is the laughing stock of the industry.  Tim Cook formally APOLOGIZED for it.  Apple hasn’t really done anything to improve it since launch.  Are you for real?

clear

HTC could get it right and earn enough profits to eat away at Samsung’s share. The Chinese OEMs could do the same. And if Google ever wakes up to the fact that it owns its own hardware division (Motorola Mobility), Samsung doesn’t stand a chance.

Newsflash…

HTC is in freefall with executives running out the doors (today’s headlines).

Google is quite aware of Motorola and has spent BILLIONS trying to make that acquisition work.  It has failed to do so (this has been in the news for weeks/months/years).

Again…dude…are you for real?  Perhaps those rose colored glasses should be pasted onto a your mug shot.

George

I think your perfectly justified disgust and disdain for Samsung is clouding your judgement.
Samsung is and will for the foreseeable future remain the top smartphone manufacturer.

You are probably naïve about the dynamics of the mobile phone industry if you really believe that HTC is just one great phone away from stealing Samsung’s crown.
Check the news today, HTC is in deep trouble.

Samsung has a very strong position. They are just as integrated as Apple, but they own different levels. Apple has iCloud, iOS, iDevices and A series SoC designs while Samsung has chip fabrication, displays, batteries, RAM, flash storage, phones, UI and apps on top of Android. Both have strenghts, weaknesses and gaps.

Compare with the rest. HTC are the first to fall because they have nothing.
Nokia has Navteq maps and brand value in many emerging markets.
BlackBerry also has about the same brand value on top of the keyboard and BBM.
LG is similar to Samsung, but they have fingers in fewer pies and are not as bold and brazen.
None of them has anything close to dangerous to Samsung.

What about the rising Chinese stars? They do pose some danger, but I don’t see much difficulty for Samsung to keep them under control by using their integration advantage to successfully compete on price.

greatgazoo

@MediaCritiquerdotcom:  I don’t agree with your statement “without Samsung hardware, there is no iPhone+iPad”.  That statement implies that Samsung somehow has a “lock” on critical components in the iPhone.  Yes, Samsung currently builds the Apple Designed Ax processors (which like all other smartphone / tablet processors are based on the ARM architecture, which isn’t owned by Samsung), but Samsung is building Apple’s chips on processes developed in a partnership (the Common Reference Platform) with IBM and Global Foundries.  The drive for the platform was to share development costs AND help the three companies to continue to compete/keep up with TSMC.  Of the three, IBM and Global Foundries (GF is the combination of the Chartered and AMD fabrication facilities) both have a LOT more experience in Logic/Processor manufacturing (Samsung’s history is Memory).  If Samsung wasn’t manufacturing the Ax processors for Apple, Apple could have taken their business to TSMC (and rumors abound TSMC is where the A7 is being brought up), Global Foundries or IBM.  For all the other components in the iPhone 5, Samsung is at best a 2nd, 3rd or 4th source supplier (see: http://www.isuppli.com/Teardowns/News/pages/Many-iPhone-5-Components-Change-But-Most-Suppliers-Remain-the-Same-Teardown-Reveals.aspx).  Samsung USED to be Apple’s Preferred supplier for Flash, DRAM, Displays and some miscellaneous support components in earlier iPhones, but that wasn’t because Samsung was “the only game in town”, but rather Samsung probably offered lower prices than their competition.  So no, without Samsung there would almost certainly still be Apple iPhones/iPads.  It is pretty safe to say that without ARM (the leader in low power processor architectures) the whole smartphone / tablet world would probably look a lot different (bigger & more power hungry), but ARM isn’t owned/controlled by Samsung and ARM (who licenses intellectual property) wants as many companies as possible using their IP.

MediaCritiquerdotcom

@greatgazoo.  I’ve seen this debate several times.  Let’s agree to disagree.  If memory serves, Apple bought its chip expertise 2-3 years ago.  It recently bought a company to try to fix its iMaps disaster.  In any event, it was using Motorola and Intel chips prior to its A6 chip, which as you correctly point out, is not Apple technology, but a tweaked version of someone else’s technology.  People love to emphasize the A4-6, but it’s a relatively recent arrival (I believe with the iPhone 4), and inherently someone else’s technology.  Are you saying that touchscreens are “miscellaneous support components?”  I believe Apple is still struggling to find a replacement screen supplier for iPhone/iPad.  I am a fan of Apple - I believe that iOS is the superior OS for the vast majority of mainstream users.  I think the iPad is truly phenomenal.  Bottom line:  without Samsung, there is no iPad/iPhone (same holds true for Foxconn, in terms of manufacturing/assembling).  Just like without Google/Android, there is no Samsung smartphone.  It’s not a bad thing to point out these interrelationships (they are common in many complex industries).  But when people start acting as if Apple is the end all and be all of smartphones, that’s a bit disingenuous.

George

Opinions are debatable. Facts are not.
You are welcome to “disagree” with reality, but don’t expect anyone to “agree” to your delusion.

Apple gradually took charge of the design of chips for iDevices starting with A4 and now has a completely custom design with A6. While most of the parts that went into A4 were licensed from ARM and ImgTec, the Swift cores in A6 were designed by Apple using just the ISA part of ARM.

Only the SoC inside iDevices is made exclusively by Samsung because having alternate suppliers for the same chip design is too expensive. Everything else is sourced from multiple suppliers.

iDevices can exist without Samsung and quite soon will be just as Samsung-free as iOS is Google-free.

MediaCritiquerdotcom

George - you raise valid points in your other post. 

I’m not disagreeing with the notion that Apple has customized its A6 chip (via acquisition of the company that they originally hired to do the work from scratch, at which point, said chip customization was not Apple’s in-house work).  Is that what you mean by Apple gradually taking charge of the design of iDevice chips?

I would not say iOS is Google-free.  The Google maps app is considered crucial by most iDevice users (and iMaps is simply not used), just as the Gmail and YouTube apps are.  If anything,  Google/Google Maps saved Apple by providing the only real option for a maps app/functionality.  Ironically, financial/business terms drove the initial separation, but after the iMaps disaster, Google was able to come back and release its maps app for iOS with better business terms than it had originally requested.

Why doesn’t Apple use someone else to make its iDevice SoC?  Seems ironic that after all the litigation between the two companies, Apple still relies on Samsung for the brains of its iDevices. 

I believe that iPad displays from other suppliers have proven to be substandard, and that the bulk of them are still made by Samsung.

I’m an Apple user.  I’m not expecting anyone to agree with my “delusion” (whatever that might be).  I’m just trying to have a reasonable discussion.

Greatgazoo

@MediaCritiquerdotcom:  Several points:

1) As I’ve mentioned earlier, rumors in the electronics industry abound that Apple is in the process of moving SoC out of Samsung: http://www.gottabemobile.com/2013/04/10/iphone-6-apple-a7-processor-rumored-for-2014-without-samsung/  Aside from the logistics of such a move always takes time, there are also contractual obligations to consider.  As the link states, Apple’s contract with Samsung runs out soon, moving before a contract has expired can be very costly.

2) As I’ve also mentioned earlier, the claim that a iPhones/iPads wouldn’t exist without Samsung implies that Samsung has a lock on a critical technology segment, without which iPhones/iPads would be impossible to build.  Even though it has been reported that other suppliers have had trouble manufacturing Retina displays meeting Apple’s specs, that doesn’t mean Apple couldn’t have reduced the resolution (to something between the retina resolution and what they were using before retina) and used displays made by others if they had to (or funneled even more money into alternate suppliers development efforts).  Yes, Samsung is a world class manufacturer of displays, but that doesn’t mean they have the IP locked up or are the only possible source.  Companies will from time to time have trouble with a technology node.  Just ask Samsung, who at last report was still having so much trouble with the 28nm node that they have to use non-Samsung SoC chips in the Galaxy S4: http://www.semiwiki.com/forum/content/2180-samsung-28nm-still-does-not-yield.html . Yes, TSMC and others are merrily pumping out 28nm technology and Samsung is having to use them.

3) Where Apple obtained its SoC design expertise is irrelevant to the discussion.  Your claim was without Samsung there wouldn’t be iPhones/iPads, not other companies.  Samsung didn’t create the ARM processor architecture.  Samsung didn’t own the design firm (P. A. Semi) Apple acquired to make custom ARM processor designs.  I do conceed that without ARM and P. A. Semi iPhones/iPads would either not exist or at least be extremely different (imagine an iPhone powered by an Intel Atom processor).  Of course without ARM there wouldn’t be Samsung’s smartphones either (imaging a Samsung device powered by a Samsung Alpha processor (licensed from DEC)). grin

4) As I stated in my first post, Samsung’s corporate philosophy makes long term business cooperation with other companies impossible.  They want to own it all, soup-to-nuts, cradle-to-grave.  That includes OS, hardware design, software, component manufacturing, content, etc.  They are tolerating Google just long enough that they can develop an in-house replacement for Android.  They aren’t there yet, but the day is coming when Samsung phones will be running on a Samsung developed and owned OS, not Android.  They tried once with BADA, they will try again.  I give Google 3-5 years before Samsung dumps them.

As for Apple, yes Samsung and Apple helped each other in many ways, but there were (and are) other companies in the world that could have/would have filled the void for Apple if Samsung had not been there.  It is a lot like football, the “red shirts” get most of the training/attention, but there are backups.  Samsung was Apple’s “red shirt” display and SoC manufacturer for several years, but others are now getting most of Apple’s attention.

wab95

@Greatgazoo:

Great comments. I was contemplating a similar response, but am frankly swamped. Yours were in any case more thorough and referenced (always a plus when one can cite references in a fact-based argument).

I’ve also encountered the curious English naming phenomenon in my travels to non-English speaking parts of the planet. In some cases, the rendition simply would not work in a native English speaking country, but very often has a local reference frame in the native tongue and culture of which outsiders are unaware. Spending time on site, more often than not, expands that awareness and appreciation for the curious name.

MediaCritiquer

If you’re going to put words in my mouth, let’s just agree to disagree. Wow.

George

Well there you go again.
Google is no longer part of the default app distribution or service integration in iOS.
That makes iOS Google-free.
It’s a fact and your denial of it makes you delusional.

You have absolutely no data of the relative usage of Apple Maps and Google Maps on iOS because only Apple can possibly have it, but you feel compelled to engage in some ridiculous mud slinging about what your wishful thinking tells you must be the truth.

Samsung still fabricates SoCs for Apple for the same reason Google still provided map data for iOS in 2012: contracts were in place and it takes time to change suppliers.

No man (or company) is an island, everyone relies on many others, but each still has individual merits. We call it civilized society.

aardman

The gist of the article is that Samsung may be a big player in smartphone hardware but is irrelevant in the (more critical) software side of the smartphone business because basically their software engineers suck.  The implication is that in the same way that Sony, Panasonic, and the rest of Japan’s consumer electronics horde couldn’t write shit for code led to their decline, Samsung will eventually follow.

I’m going to say something that some people will object vehemently to but I think the reason is cultural.  Successful software design requires imagination, creativity, breaking through preconceived notions, and a basically subversive attitude.  Confucian societies promote group think, respect for authority, and conformity.  And of all the confucian societies, I would assert that Koreans are the most prone to group think and conformity.  Why do you think North Korea is the most regimented society in the world?  No they’re no South Korea but it’s the same culture up to 60 years ago, which is not a long time.

Now, now, I’m not saying things can’t change.  But I think this is a very difficult obstacle that Samsung will have to overcome if it is to be relevant in the software business.  Samsung knows this, read that internal email where they were lamenting why they can’t write software like Apple.  And no it can’t be done by simply ordering the troops: “Everyone, be creative!”

Greatgazoo

@aardman:  Whether your cultural argument is true or not, it has a flaw in that it is based on the belief that Samsung only employs Asian (South Korean) software designers.  The Sonys, Panasonics, etc. of Japan made their play in the 80’s/90’s when globalization was in it’s infancy and yes they tried to do it pretty much with “home grown” talent.  Yes, Samsung is headquartered in South Korea, but they have many divisions worldwide and (at least the people at the top of the corporation) understand the strengths (and weaknesses) of their own, and other cultures. They have both large smartphone division and semiconductor fab operation here in the US and many operations around the world.  They search out worldwide talent (both experienced and new college graduate) for both their international offices as well as research organizations back in S. Korea.  In short they did pay attention to the failures of the asian companies that came before them.
Running a multinational/multicultural company poses a lot of challenges for their management (cultural clashes being one of the biggest).  However, they are single minded in their determination to succeed in both hardware and software, so don’t make the mistake of discounting them from a belief of “asian guys can’t code”.
I’ve spent 30 years working in high tech.  In that time I’ve worked for American, Japanese (one of the companies on your list) and S. Korean (guess which one) companies.  Through those experiences I have formed my own opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of each culture.  Of the three, Koreans are the most aggressive, take the longest view and NEVER settle for being #2.

Freebie for you bryan

Its very obvious that you love apple and dislike samsung.  By posting a cartoon sunglasses on that samsung president.  Funny thing is your own thumbnail reminds me of middle trash America.  Lol
I’m sure you know your Beloved apple products contain samsung components.  I went get deep into that.
Samsung has offices around the world and utilizes people of all races so your asian.
About why samsung is creating redundant apps is because they can think farther ahead then you and realize that hardware won’t really matter in the future and that software is the key component to longevity in the mobile space.  Just as android made galaxy.  Galaxy made android.  Google fears samsung is getting too big.  There are alot of people that like touch wiz unlike what you wrote.  Theres alot of people that have grown tired of ios.  Did you know steve Jobs said ios was ahead of anything for the next 5 year in 2007.that time is up.  While you may doubt tizen. Can you ever fathom touch wiz running on top or tizen looking like touch wiz?  Do you know how many galaxy owners are out there?  Final thing you should see how much samsung invests in America.  Compare that to apple building mac minis and buying gorilla glass. Thats about all they put into creating jobs.  Sent from my HTC one

Randy Fisher

Apple high days are over… say hello to 1991-1995 again.

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