With Galaxy Note 7, Is Samsung Getting Too Far Ahead Of Apple?
Time for the iPhone faithful to panic?
“The Galaxy Note 7 is miles ahead of the iPhone.” That recent headline at tech site TechnoBuffalo may strike some as clickbait. (It’s not.) Rather, it’s a gadget-savvy writer – Todd Haselton — simply expressing his chagrin at the widening technological gap between Samsung and Apple AAPL -0.77%.
“Samsung’s device is already leaps and bounds ahead of what we’re expecting from the iPhone 7…and there’s currently no indication Apple has anything that scratches the surface of what the Galaxy Note 7 can do,” Haselton wrote. He cites goodies like the curvy 5.7-inch Quad HD screen, iris scanner that compliments the fingerprint reader, better support for virtual reality gear, and the camera’s upgraded HDR capabilities, among a list of other things (which Samsung has already been offering with other phones).
Haselton is not alone. Raymond Soneira, a display expert who heads DisplayMate Technologies, has been making the case for a while that Apple is dangerously behind Samsung in curved OLED displays. The display is probably the single most important component on a smartphone. “OLEDs have now evolved and emerged as the premium mobile Smartphone display technology…Apple’s rumored move to an OLED iPhone is simply a recognition [of that],” Soneira writes.
And leading market researchers are making similar arguments. “Samsung [is]…gaining share thanks to strong Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge performance,” IDC said in July.
I would add that Samsung also designs and manufacturers much of the core hardware that goes into its phones, including the processor (for certain markets) and OLED display. In addition to having control over key aspects of the phone, Samsung is not susceptible to the vagaries (and in some cases unreliability) of outside suppliers, like Apple is.
But do consumers care?
The problem with the Apple-falling-too-far-behind argument is the strength of iOS — and all those apps. Ever since the first iPhone was introduced in 2007, iOS has maintained a lock on app leadership. Consumers – aside from a relatively small clique of geeks — obsess about apps, not curved OLED displays and virtual reality. And while the iPhone 7 may not remedy much of the hardware-based technological gap with the Galaxy series, Apple still makes a great smartphone. Certainly good enough to satisfy its user base. And the “boring” iPhone SE has “proved successful in both emerging and developed markets” capturing “many first-time smartphone buyers as well as Android users switching over to the Apple ecosystem,” IDC said in the same July report.
I asked TechnoBuffalo’s Haselton about the average consumer’s preferences. “Ultimately, it probably boils down to whether the consumer actually cares about all of these features,” he said in an email. “Do people really want VR from their phone? Are they using wireless charging? Samsung’s phone may be more advanced, but until consumers start to actually realize this — and I don’t think many do outside of gadget circles — then I suppose it doesn’t quite matter,” he said.
He continued. “So…my story is about how advanced Samsung’s smartphone has become relative to Apple’s iPhone. It may take Apple time to catch up and, indeed, it has proven that it can be late to the party and still win.”
Image source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/brookecrothers/2016/08/13/with-galaxy-note-7-is-samsung-getting-too-far-ahead-of-apple/#32569d7935bb