An interesting question came up on the Pocketnow Weekly last week from Patrick Webb, which was actually addressed on the air. All the same, it seemed a highly debatable topic, so let’s talk about it. The question basically addressed the fundamental difference between the product development philosophy between the two biggest OEMs on the planet – Apple and Samsung.
Apple has a grand total of 4 “New” devices that you can buy today. That number will change in a few days, but for now, if you were to walk into a store and ask for the latest Apple device, you would be presented with 4 options – an iPhone 5s, an iPhone 5c, an iPad Air, and an iPad Mini. So once you remove the iPhone 5c, because…why?… you’re left with three options. On the flip side, Samsung probably released three devices in the time it took you to eat breakfast. It will probably release another device by the time you’re done releasing this article. If there was a hard cap on the number of product press releases a company could issue, Samsung would reach it by January 3rd and it would only take that long because January 1 is a holiday.
The Apple way
So it begs the question. Between these two companies, which are virtually dominating the global smartphone space, who has it right? Apple’s philosophy which embraces the “Art of saying no” as Patrick describes it, indicates that Apple will do what Apple feels will solve the problem its customers have regardless of whether the customer knows they have those problems. Apple is typically slow to adopt major change. It took 4 generations of iPhone to increase the screen size. It took 4 generations of iPad before the iPad mini debuted.
This “slow and steady wins the race” approach has served Apple well. There’s no sense in just adding feature after feature if it’s not going to be a premium experience. Virtually every feature in iPhones and iOS feels like a complete experience that has undergone rigorous testing, testing, and more testing. Except for Maps. Maps were a pooch screw. But, anyway. This is a great approach because it ensures that no matter what you bring to the masses, the experience will be premium and will stand up to the toughest of scrutiny. No corners will be cut and everything will be top notch, which is what a discerning smartphone customer should be looking for.
But is that approach the best one to take? Apple is building off of previous success with secure knowledge that no matter how long it takes to evolve, and no matter how controlling it all seems, iPhones will sell, and they’ll sell like crazy. Samsung’s approach has a ton of merit too.
The saying goes, you can’t please all of the people, all of the time. Samsung may just be proving that wrong. If you create a new phone to fill every niche imaginable in the market, you can please all of the people all of the time. Samsung does spit our device after device “like a baby on an all prune diet”. While discussing this issue, Stephen Schenck made a really solid argument. Samsung has released three generations of smartwatch on two different platforms in just under a year. But, each of those iterations has added some value to the previous generation, so there was little loss here.
The Samsung way
What about the Galaxy Note Edge? What will the wrap around screen add? We don’t know yet. Samsung’s reputation for pumping out phone after phone with features that are undercooked or just not ready for prime time makes me a little nervous for this wrap around screen concept. But Samsung has taken a lot of those features and made them better over time. Plus, someone in this world wants a phone with a screen that wraps over the side, so why not?
What quality does for Apple, saturation does for Samsung. And Samsung seems to be winning the race, at least in terms of market share, so maybe its way is the way to succeed. Then again, Apple’s way gives us all beautiful hardware and excellent software that doesn’t compromise and doesn’t fall short, as long as you don’t rely on it to get you from Mom’s house to the dry cleaner without a detour through Death Valley.
So what do you think? Is Apple’s way the way for you? Or are you a believer of throwing it against the wall to see what sticks? If you could run a corporation like Apple or Samsung with a bottomless bank account, which direction would you go? Let’s start up a conversation in the comments and let’s see if we can figure this out.