Apple versus Samsung: The real deal is not in the devices, but the war is between eco-systems
Smartphone are not only about Devices – It entails software, games, maps, LBS, navigation, applications and APNS, user interfaces, back –end integration with services, developers, content and aggregators, eco-systems and partnerships with other constituents of eco-system. What goes into the smartphone rivalry are ecosystems against one another trying to engage and enrich consumer experiences around media that is carried through by the device. As such the Samsung and Apple rivalry is actually the tipping point of a much larger war between Apple and Android. There are some patent-led issues around the device which is what Apple and Samsung are fighting about. But the bigger context here is the battle royale between Android, Apple and Microsoft (Hopefully in an year’s time).
Apple versus Samsung, thus in real terms, is Apple versus Android. Samsung is the largest contributor to Android smartphone volumes globally and a lot of cutting edge Android services have been featured in Samsung smartphones. Android also has HTC, Motorola among its other significant device partners. Nokia is yet to perfect the Smartphone domian, not so much in terms of devices- rather in terms of the eco-system, technology, partners and the likes. So the focus remains on getting that right. That is where the partnership with Microsoft comes in. Microsoft with its own competency in the online digital space is the third part of this very unique and interesting competition that is now maturing. While Microsoft has joined this late, but Nokia’s inherent strengths as a device manufacturer and distribution is what Microsoft WP (Windows Phone) could ride on to get at par with Apple and Android. Nokia is presently making the migration from proprietary Symbian to WP and the fall currently is because while Symbian is slipping, WP has not kicked in yet.
All these three majors: Apple, Android and Microsoft come with different competencies. Apple for instance is the innovators brand but is very stringent in terms of control on its innovation and integration across its devices. This adds a great deal of exclusivity to the Apple Brand. Android on the other hand is “open” and encourages wide diversity of partnerships across its platform. Android obviously has its competence in Google’s presence across all web based platforms and huge repertoire of web based services. Microsoft is the legacy company which is trying to re-invent itself in a swanky new avatar that is more relevant to the mobile generation. The market dynamics will depend upon factors such as experience and engagement with the users, range of services offered and the time to market for innovations. The objective is to host the user life and lifestyles on platforms in a seamless manner creating a stickiness and monetization ability for the platforms. Currently the Android platform has made major inroads in this segment. However, it is Apple who is the most successful in terms of monetizing its user base and that is what really matters. Microsoft hasn’t really started and one will have to wait for the Nokia-WP partnership to kick in, before we place our bets on Microsoft.