I was in London having a hearty English breakfast on the first free morning I had after attending the Internet World and the Big Data Show a couple of weeks ago, when I suddenly overheard that Samsung’s profits increased 41.5 percent in the first quarter of this year. The voice came from the television I was ignoring in a failed attempt to enjoy my free morning without thinking about technology-related matters.
Cup of tea in hand, all my attention switched from my lovely English breakfast to the news report. My working mood had been activated; I was ready to know what was going on with the big South Korean manufacturer's sales.
I have to admit that Samsung's news took me a little by surprise. I know, it shouldn't. Some of the reports I have seen lately coming from China have pointed at a strong Samsung, with high and steady sales. Maybe my surprise was based on the fact that it's hard to not see Apple rising high, as it used to be just a few years back — more precisely, before Steve Jobs' death. Some days before Samsung's profit rise, Apple reported its first profit decline in more than a decade, and indicated no major releases until the fall. Should we admit that there is, in fact, “a before and after” Apple's iconic CEO?
A little retrospective
In 2012's fourth quarter, we were in the never-ending space of smartphone wars. According to market research firm Strategy Analytics’ “Handset Country Share Tracker” report, last year's fourth quarter ended this way for Samsung and Apple: Apple's iPhone 5 overtook Samsung's Galaxy S3 to become the world's best-selling smartphone model for the first time.
Fast forward to the present
So there I was, still with my tea in hand, hearing about Samsung's 41.5 percent increase in sales in 2013's first quarter — even before its Galaxy S4 reached the market. How did it happen? One doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to realize that one of the reasons Samsung is beating Apple is because the South Korean manufacturer is offering more options than just one smartphone, whereas Apple only has the iPhone.
The future will tell
Apple needs to offer an alternative to the iPhone — a new device targeting a different consumer group. Apple needs to expand. At least in this case, Apple needs to look at Samsung and learn. It needs to have at least the same number of smartphones in the market as Samsung if it wants to play the upgrade game with the same number of cards in hand. If not, then Apple should concentrate on delivering a stunning upgrade of its iPhone in the fall, instead of quick ones every semester just to keep up with Samsung's pace.
There is no doubt that the smartphone arena has turned out to be more interesting than ever this year. What are your predictions and bets for the next quarter?