Friday, October 04, 2013

Apple wins the device wars

I wrote before that all Apple seems to need to do to win the device wars is to keep on its current trajectory and let the competition make all the mistakes. This still seems to be the case. Let's look at the competition and see what they have been doing.


Let's start with an easy one. We all know that Blackberry has already lost. Putting all its eggs in the basket of a new technology platform meant that for years it had nothing exciting to ship. And because BB10 (the new platform) has only just come out there are hardly any decent apps available. For most people there is no real reason to buy a Blackberry. The best result Blackberry can hope for is to be an obscure number four in Western markets.


Microsoft is a software company at heart. There is still a big void between their software team and hardware team. They have made the disastrous mistake of trying to ship one platform for both tablets and PCs. This means that the poor Surface designers, having put together some decent hardware, then have to ruin it by putting Windows 8 (or 8.1) on it.

The whole concept of Windows 8 is flawed. Tablet users have very different needs to PC users. Trying to satisfy them both in one platform is a huge and ugly compromise. Microsoft is now iterating on this concept by releasing Windows 8.1 and Surface 2. This is known as "polishing a turd."

On the phone side reviews of the Lumia range seem to be OK but there seems to be no compelling reason for customers to switch from Android or iOS and take a risk on a new platform. Many of the slightly more obscure apps are not available for Windows Phone.


Samsung has been very aggressive in its attempts to be the number one smartphone maker and has produced some nice phones. I personally use a Galaxy SII and it is a very solid phone. There are two issues I have with Samsung when compared to Apple: brand and innovation.

The Apple brand is very strong with teenagers where it is seen as the luxury device. Samsung less so. Even the name "Samsung" sounds clumsy in English. Samsung produce a whole range of phones from budget to high end so this doesn't give the brand any exclusivity.

In terms of innovation Samsung seems to struggle somewhat. It relies on Google for the bulk of the platform so there is less scope for differentiation there. When it has attempted to innovate - such as with the "Gear" smart watch - the results have been less than stellar. It is good at putting the Android platform on some nice hardware but has struggled to provide any leadership when it comes to innovation.


Google is at heart an internet services company. Everything it does is focused on allowing people to spend more time on the internet. Driver-less cars will enable people to go on-line on the commute to work. The Chrome browser improved the browsing experience. Android made the smartphone ubiquitous.

As Google is not a device company at heart it will struggle to put the same passion and energy into their devices as Apple. The Nexus brand is very weak compared to Apple and it has no luxury permutations.


My thoughts about Apple are worthy of a separate article but let's just say that they have the brand, the apps and the innovation. They also have a very cheap share price. Invest!