Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What Are the Implications for Apple if Samsung's Latest Smartphone Eclipses the iPhone?

Earlier this week, the Wall St. Journal published "Samsung Trains Its Eye on the iPhone," an interesting article about Samsung, ahead of its launch of a new smartphone, the Galaxy S IV. 

This blog is not a reviews site so I'm not going to touch on the features of Samsung's new phone.

Instead, what interests me is how the media covers technology.

Two weeks ago, we posted our prediction that "We expect the media to report on several tech battles in 2013," including:
The battle among huge companies. Apple v. Google v. Samsung and Microsoft. Oracle v. Everyone Else. The media have a boxing ring mentality: They love to report on the battle between two competing companies. So we expect continued high level of coverage of Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft in their battle for supremacy. Of course, those four hypercompetitive companies are often battling other companies as well. (Yes, we've included this prediction in prior years – we feel that the media continues to be fascinated by this story and see no end in sight.) Interestingly, over the past year, Samsung has leveraged Android to become a major global player in the smartphone and tablet sectors, which is having an impact on both Apple (as an iPhone and iPad competitor) and on Google (since Samsung, as the de facto Android leader, could ask to renegotiate its agreements with Google, cutting Google’s margins).
What's interests me is that the print version of the article included this outtake: "Samsung is taking the battle for mobile to Apple's home turf," which was picked up in the body of the article.

For us, this validates not just the fact that the media would see the smartphone market as a story of two companies but that the media is framing that story as a battle between two companies.

Samsung has to know that much of the Galaxy S IV coverage will include mentions about Apple and the iPhone. 

For Apple, being included in most reviews of the Galaxy S IV is good -- because when reporters are writing about Apple it means less space for Samsung. But that's necessarily good if, as Fox's reported:"Galaxy S IV called Samsung's 'last act in Apple's shadow.'"

If there's a lot of coverage like Fox's, expect Apple to respond either by pushing up its announcement for the next generation of iPhones (the iPhone 5S?) to later in March or June (as had been rumored) or that Apple may keep its October launch date (also rumored) but pack the iPhone 6 with a bunch of new cool features. 

The point of skipping the iPhone 5S name is that it's hard to get fans excited about a phone that's only a half-step up from the prior version when your competitor has made significant advances.

What do you think?

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