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« The Science of Santa Claus: Lets get some things straight... | Main | Smartphone Form Book 2012 part 2 - For Apple it is 'Splitwatch' »

December 29, 2011

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Ramzi

Great overview of Samsung's year and next future Tomi! (it's also relieving not to hear about WP and Nokia for a change :p)
Regarding Tizen project, the tight integration to TVs, cars and other home entertainment devices is obviously a plus for the newest OS; however Samsung might need more than few months to have the support of developers. Most of the serious ones already started HTML5 projects (from game developers to different services apps) but the technology is not mature enough to provide the native apps experience.. I wonder how Samsung will deal with that issue, especially for a high-end device..

guest

Tomi,

I am afraid I will have to break your rule somewhat, but in the specific case of Samsung this is warranted.

Samsung is not just a TV/PC/phone manufacturer, but also a major worldwide provider of essential electronic components. These are found everywhere, including in its competitors' products. A crucial case in point is Apple, which depends to a substantial part on components provided by Samsung for its iPhone.

How do you see this interdependence affecting Samsung's strategy in 2012?

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Ramzi and guest

Ramzi - yes, the integration opportunities will take time, but also most of those companies are envious of the growth and profits in mobile and will put plenty of effort into capturing that opportunity. For Samsung I think its rapid small steps many times, more incremental gains than a big splash haha.

guest - no problem at all, you are 100% in the right here, that is valid comments, you dealt with Samsung and my blog article haha. I would never delete that. As to the components side, I think Samsung thought they were isolated from hostility from Apple being one of their critical suppliers but last year were faced with many lawsuits about the iPhone and iPad related patents etc. For Samsung it was a rude awakening but they have since toughened their stance with Apple and have been counter-suing and even sued pre-emptively to block some Apple launches. I think its a new and ugly side to the industry but will increase, not decrease in future. Same true of the components. Major conglomerates like Samsung will have R&D in many areas of high tech and will have abilities and components in many areas of it. That means that increasingly major companies are rivals in some area and partners in another. I would say, however, that Samsung is more astute in negotiating this treacherous side than Apple which tries to control everything and with that, Apple angers many partners and abandons many opportunities. Samsung is most capable at capitalizing on any emerging opportunities. They are perhaps 'the opportunist' of Mobile currently haha.

Thank you both for commenting

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Baron95

Samsung is doing a great job across all its product lines. From memory chips and screens, to phones to consumer electronics. But most importantly, they are the only successful competitor to the iPhone/iPad product line, with their Galaxy line, etc.

And, this holiday season, Samsung is leading the consumer electronic industry in the transition to Smart Connected TVs with apps and streaming. They are destroying Sony and Sharp in advanced markets. Telecom operators offering multi-screen video solutions (e.g. Verizon Flexview) are now favoring Samsung Smart TVs for over the top TV presentation.

This may very well see Samsung take the phone/tab/TV OS/Content/App lead in the industry - even per-empting Apple's effort with iTV.

In smartphones/mobile-phones, Samsung still has some work to do. It still needs an effective Cloud solution/strategy. It needs to cull some of its OS efforts. If the end games is all phones being smartphones, having multiple OSes to feed and integrate will be a long term competitive disadvantage vs Apple with just iOS, itself very similar to the desktop OS X. Samsung has to deal with Windows, Linux, Tizen, Bada, its featurephone OS, etc.

So gongrats up to now to Samsung, but they need to prove they can consolidate their market share gains, cut complexity and start generating profits that are proportional to their market share and #1 (by volume) position.

I still think the more likely scenario is that Samsung phone margins will continue to be under pressure from IP licensing/royalties to the likes of Nokia, Microsoft, Apple, and the Android race to the bottom. If that comes to pass, Samsung will be starved for profits.

KPOM

I agree Samsung will be the smartphone and possibly total phone sales leader in 2012. However, I think that their vulnerability lies in their "copy" approach. Apple's IP-related lawsuits are just the beginning. While they got the headlines, Microsoft got the licensing deals reportedly worth $15/phone, and there are also reports that Apple could get $10 per Android device if they changed their lawsuit strategy (which is totally possible). How much longer would Samsung want to subsidize their competitors at $20-$25 a pop is unknown (though they are also a major supplier to Apple).

Samsung may not be able to move to Tizen as easily as you suggest. Look at Nokia. Two different CEOs tried to move to a different platform. Symbian hung around, based largely on inertia, even as Android and iOS made significant inroads. Samsung may find that by the end of 2012, Android is so entrenched that it is "stuck" with it even if it would rather move to something in house like Bada or Tizen. If they try to hedge their bets by making more Windows phones (per their licensing agreement with Microsoft), they could unwittingly benefit Nokia and HTC, and threaten the viability of Tizen. If done sloppily (like Nokia's switch to Windows Phone), they could even undermine their own position with Android.

cycnus

Hi Tomi,

I remember you write that one of the reason that carrier hate nokia even more were because nokia doing the dual sim card. I was wondering what Samsung did on dual sim android that were differ with nokia. Or the carrier also hate samsung on doing the dual sim card?

I also want to know your opinion on samsung dual sim card strategy in China, namely the samsung galaxy SII duo that just got announced a couple of days back. FIY, I know that china dual sim card smartphone were started 5-7 years back, starting with MS Windows CE from Coolpad. and I believe you must be familiar with this too since you do a consulting in china?

Other than that, seeing how apple sales of iphone 4S were not good in most europe country, and fall behind SGS II, I agree that Samsung do perfect in 2011. and wondering if samsung can hold it's crown as long as nokia.

Thanks for the great blog, I always enjoy reading your blog.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Baron, Lee, KPOM and cygnus

(something weird with Typepad, I'll repost my replies one-by-one)

Baron - Good points and we mostly agree. On the cloud part - I would think the cloud strategy is 'a must' for any software company (Microsoft, Google etc) but not necessarily for a hardware company like Samsung. At least not in the short-to-mid term time window ie most of this decade. And if Sammy has something like a quarter of all mobile phone handsets of the world - more handsets using Samsung brand than all PCs of any kind combined - plus those are all smartphones, then Samsung would be in a great position to try to 'do an Ovi' strategy to do their own photo sharing and instant messaging and music store etc services, in addition to software sales like traditional app stores. That is an option that is realistic only for the very big reach global players (like Nokia, Samsung). I think Apple over-reached with the media play on the iPad and many media brands are abandoning their initial 'iPad is a separate medium' strategies. But time will tell, certainly the cloud will play a much bigger role in the future and we'll see how Samsung will adjust to that world.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Baron, Lee, KPOM and cygnus

Leebase - I did mean that Samsung copies the market leader meticulously ie Sammhy copied Nokia, not Apple. Where Samsung copied Apple, it was indirectly where it initially copied Nokia. Of course where someone else does something clearly successful (touch screens on iPhone) then yes, they would take that 'short-cut' before Nokia figured it out that the iPhone was not a fad haha. But I was definitely not suggesting that when Samsung strategy is to copy the leader, they would focus on Blackberry (who outsold Apple still last year) or Apple for that matter. They have been 'meticulously' copying Nokia in everything Nokia did, including when Nokia had the Symbian partnership - Samsung stayed there - and when Nokia made Symbian its own OS, Samsung announced bada, and when Nokia did a 'special partnership' with Microsoft, so did Samsung etc etc etc. Its really copying the market leader meticulously and that is why Sammy is catching and will pass Nokia. They don't have to waste internal resources in comparing alternate strategies and then convincing internally conflicted units to agree on that selected strategy haha..

Then on Tizen and Google push-back. Google cannot 'push back' against any of its handset vendors. There were many OS options prior to Android (Symbian, Windows Mobile, LiMo) and there are many now (Windows Phone, Tizen, LiMo, even arguably WebOS). Most Android providers offered smartphones on other platforms - Samsung already has bada - and do so now. Samsung knows its OS is never on an exclusive basis. That is actually very good for Google, Google has to earn its role, it has to deliver better value to the handset makers and thus stay ahead of the rival OS platforms and so far, they have done that admirably.

For Samsung I think Tizen is the obvious play with bada, just like Nokia had the obvious 'best' strategy shifting to MeeGo at the top end, Symbian in short-term for low end, and developing Meltemi for low end in the longer run, all tied into Qt. Samsung can stay with Android but then both be at the whim of Google's development, and having no strategic differentiation options from other Android makers. In the long run, the Samsung-owned operating systems will pose biggest rival to Android, as their scale is considerably greater than the potential for iPhone or Blackberry (or Windows Phone haha). A smart rival handset maker will run some development on Tizen as an insurance play and to keep an eye on Samsung's focus areas..

Yes the Samsung 'interest' in Windows Phone haha. Good point. I should probably have added it. I think its totally cosmetic by Samsung and by far their least priority. Separately I think WP7 is failing miserably in the market so what one or two phones they might release with WP7 will be only for show, to placate Microsoft and keep them from lawsuits haha. I think Microsoft killed its chances with WP7 in the eyes of the carriers when MS bought Skype as I wrote on this blog, but MS also killed its chances with all (non-Nokia) handset makers when Microsoft resorted to lawsuits against handset makers like Motorola. For 2012, WP7 will not be a significant platform for Samsung, but maybe I should have said so in the blog.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

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Tomi T Ahonen

KPOM - I think you misunderstood what I meant with 'copy'. I meant Samsung is not copying hardware (even though they are also doing that, as Apple has been arguing in courts). I meant much more strategically, Samsung is copying the business, the strategy of the number 1 company in any industry they compete in, including in our case, that of Nokia the market leader in handsets (and up to early 2011, also in smartphones, which would not be the primary focus obviously). Samsung has not been copying the rather limited and short-sighted and carrier-hostile strategies of Apple. Samsung has ignored Apple strategies (and those of RIM which for the first 4 years of the iPhone was bigger than Apple in smartphones). Samsung has copied meticulously Nokia..

I do agree that Samsung may have taken the 'copy' idea maybe too far with some Apple product 'reverse engineering' ideas but for example the iPhone touch screen slate form factor was not Samsung copying Apple, if Samsung copied anyone, they were copying LG from the previous year ie 2006. I can't think of any iPhone or Apple smartphone 'innovation' that Samsung could be said to have been copying, that didn't exist somewhere else before it came to Apple, can you? Even the software 'multitouch' ie pinching etc was already shown by other software developers (in prototype form) in 2006.

I do agree that the migration(s) would not be easy. I also am 100% confident that Samsung is smart enough to see the massive mistakes done by Microsoft and Nokia (most of all, no migration path by Microsoft and destroying the already-announced and deployed migration path by Nokia). So while it wouldn't be easy or cheap or fast, Samsung should be able to execute that better than Nokia's fumbling in this space now - observing that obviously as I think the WP7 direction by Nokia is a dead end, if there is a Nokia alive as an independent smartphone maker by the end of next year, they will have abandoned the WP7 strategy and have to take on MUCH more expenses to either revert to the previous Symbian+MeeGo+Qt)+Meltemi) strategy, or shift to an Android+Meltemi+Qt strategy. The misadventure to WP7 will be seen as an enormously costly mis-step by the past CEO, and just recovering from that will be further costs and losses to Nokia and its tarnished brand.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

KPOM

I get your point about Samsung copying Nokia's strategies, but my point about the "copy" strategy going too far also refers to their product strategy. While Samsung may not have "copied" in a legal sense, they don't seem to have an original idea. That is, without a Nokia or an Apple to show the way, Samsung may just rest on its laurels and milk its market position for all its worth (much the way Nokia did in the OPK era). Without the success of the iPad, would Samsung have ever released the Galaxy Tab? Even the Galaxy Note was preceded by the Dell Streak. That's what I mean by "copying."

I also think you underestimate Apple's influence (though I'll wait to see your post on them). Samsung and the rest of the market weren't "copying" LG when they switched to capacitive, multi-touch screens. They were copying Apple, who showed everyone else it was commercially viable and a method of input. Sure, they existed before Apple, but I recall even after the iPhone's release that Nokia execs and apologists everywhere claimed they were inferior because they couldn't be used with a stylus or a gloved hand, and that they'd never take off in Asia because of the character set. Similarly, Apple's "short-sighted, carrier-hostile" policies helped break the stranglehold that carriers had, enabling such concepts as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (which has minimal carrier branding, albeit more than any iPhone).

Samsung is a master at playing "second mover advantage." However, that requires someone else to move first. That strategy is a great way to vault to a lead, but not necessarily a way to maintain that lead.

KPOM

@Baron95, the biggest threat to the Samsung tablet line isn't the iPad. It's the Kindle Fire. Even though it is sold only in the US, it is already the #2 tablet. If Amazon expands the line upward (which I think they will), and Apple expands the iPad downward (which I think they might - at the very least they'll copy their iPhone strategy and keep a cheaper iPad 2 around), then the tablet market will likely shake out with Apple and Amazon each grabbing about 30-35%, and everyone else (Android, Windows 8 ARM, etc.) fighting over the remaining 30-40%. Amazon's biggest threat is that people buy tablets for content, and Amazon has more content than anyone else. Apple also has content through iTunes. Samsung relies on others for its tablet software (Google for now, perhaps Microsoft with Windows 8 ARM), and has no content.

Bob Shaw

Going forward the smartphone cannot be looked as a standalone computing device used in isolation. It will have to work in tandem with other form factors i.e. tablets, laptops and PC. Also possibly television.

In 2 to 3 years going forward, the OS that would do well is the one that is scaleble and consistent across all form factors i.e. smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops and possibly Televison. Also cloud would play a very prominent role as it would allow seamless working across these different form factors e.g. one can continue watching a movie in tablet or smartphone where the person left off on the desktop.

Windows 8 appears to be the most likely candidate for the top spot as it is expected to have the most seamless working across multiple form factors. Nokia may have some transition pains but it would benefit immensely from its relationship with Microsoft as the smartphone evolves in 2 to 3 years.

Samsung may have benefited at present by hoping in different beds with different OSes without any loyalty. However these benefits are short term and will not last as the smartphone evolves. In the long run it is only strong alliances between players with complementary skills that succeed.

ds

As a happy owner of note I would like to defend Samsung innovations that went into the device. It has combination of features that make it stand out from other smartphones including streak:
- screen resolution: 1280:800 is a truly desktop level experience that paired with no nonsense pixel density (with streak and iPhone on both extremes) removed mobile restrictions to Web browsing whether touch optimized or not,
- precise pen input goes as far as it gets on emulating mouse on a mobile device
- pressure sensitive pen and form factor brings it very close to physical note taking and hand drawing experience, something that tech conservationists among us may praise.
There are some quirks that suggest Samsung is not there yet with this class (GUI layout, ESP. keyboard and bars are not adapted to the fact than 30% of the screen is barely reachable single handed, I've seen handwriting recognition done ways better). Besides gingerbread doesn't seem best fit for such for such spectd device.
Nevertheless I believe all makes it one of the boldest pushes in Samsung smartphone history. Successors with amoled+ and keyboard could spring very successful family of devices and redefine a business phone.

anotherGuest

Well to me one of the main reasons why i dont find samsung smartphones to be appealing is the design ... it reassembles iPhone so much that i consider it to be its cheaper version :P

usnuyh

hmm... korean online news is saying that 2012 q4's sales will be 34millons for samsung and 23millions for apple. Anyway i think the biggest news for 2012 in smartphone industry will be samsung's galaxy skin(coming out in q2 of 2012). This will be like a next generation smartphone with flexible screens(power of AMOLED display). I don't know how great the first model would be but they already got technology to make bendable batteries, materials, and YES bendable internal circuits(i saw couple news, i'm not lying), so this would be totally interesting.

usnuyh

oops! i meant 2011's q4 sales

cycnus

Hi Tomi,

I think your answer to me still missing in action :(

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Office 2010 Download

South Korean Samsung is currently the world's biggest smartphone handset maker. Globally world's second largest mobile phone handset maker and the biggest provider of Android smartphones, Samsung has two of its own OS's - bada is over a year old with about 2% market share of new sales, targeting low-cost smartphones, and Tizen being developed with Intel as an OS for premium-priced smartphones for 2012 release. Samsung is the only brand of mobile phones that has a number 1 or number 2 position on every one of the six inhabited continents but its market share of smartphones is still below that of its market share in dumbphones. Samsung seems to be on the rising side of most
trends of the industry.

Office Standard 2010

Then there is the new parent to MeeGo. After Nokia jilted Intel and announced rudely that they would not make any more MeeGo devices even if the N9 is a huge hit product, Intel went and found a new partner. Samsung stepped in and to show how they play hardball, on the very day that N9 sales started, Intel and Samsung announced the end of MeeGo and the launch of its replacement smartphone operating system, Tizen. Tizen phones should start to appear during 2012 and those are likely to be high-end smartphones similarly to how the N9 and N950 were high-end MeeGo devices. Tizen would be the logical high end OS of preference for Samsung if and when it wishes to move away from building Google's Android army. Expect Tizen to be built with plenty of family ecosystem thinking with bada and Samsung's app store, much like how Nokia's MeeGo strategy was supposed to work with Symbian and Ovi.

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    Tomi Ahonen is a bestselling author whose twelve books on mobile have already been referenced in over 100 books by his peers. Rated the most influential expert in mobile by Forbes in December 2011, Tomi speaks regularly at conferences doing about 20 public speakerships annually. With over 250 public speaking engagements, Tomi been seen by a cumulative audience of over 100,000 people on all six inhabited continents. The former Nokia executive has run a consulting practise on digital convergence, interactive media, engagement marketing, high tech and next generation mobile. Tomi is currently based out of Hong Kong but supports Fortune 500 sized companies across the globe. His reference client list includes Axiata, Bank of America, BBC, BNP Paribas, China Mobile, Emap, Ericsson, Google, Hewlett-Packard, HSBC, IBM, Intel, LG, MTS, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Ogilvy, Orange, RIM, Sanomamedia, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Three, Tigo, Vodafone, etc. To see his full bio and his books, visit www.tomiahonen.com Tomi Ahonen lectures at Oxford University's short courses on next generation mobile and digital convergence. Follow him on Twitter as @tomiahonen. Tomi also has a Facebook and Linked In page under his own name. He is available for consulting, speaking engagements and as expert witness, please write to tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com

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