Apple Vs. Samsung – The Ultimate Feud for Global Dominance
Every year—like clockwork—an age-old debate boils over in the smartphone market. It’s a seemingly never-ending battle between two of the world’s largest tech companies; Apple and Samsung.
Whenever the latest Apple or Samsung flagship phone is released, the announcements are typically followed by passionate arguments from either camp. It’s very much like how a geyser erupts after tossing Mentos in a bottle of Coke. Social networks and media outlets are set ablaze with side-by-side comparisons pitting the brands against each other—and rightfully so.
In the mobile phone industry, Samsung’s Galaxy series and Apple’s iPhone stand tall at the pinnacle of the heap—dwarfing competitors. They both offer cutting edge devices that leverage brand loyalty, user experience, and good designs to stay at the top. Although other phone makers such as Huawei and Xiaomi are gaining ground in the industry, the Samsung-Apple duo unequivocally lay claim to the most anticipated high-end smartphones.
But which brand reigns supreme? Would you rather buy the latest Samsung, or Apple smartphone? Read on as we dig into one of the longest-running battles in the tech world—including comparisons of the market share, business models, software/hardware features.
Where it All Began – A History so Dramatic it Sounds Scripted
Samsung and Apple have a turbulent relationship—and it seems to get more agitated with every passing year. But why would the companies single out each other in an industry full of other players? Aside from being the top dogs snarling for the alpha spot, the ‘grudge’ between Samsung and Apple is a personal one. To understand how deep it cuts, let’s rewind to moment the two companies first interreacted. (PS: The narrative below is adapted from Geoffrey Cain’s Samsung Rising as previewed by Forbes)
Part 1: A Blossoming Relationship Begins
It was back in 2005 when 3 Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. executives set their destination for Steve Jobs’ home in Palo Alto. In their possession was “trump card” that would kickstart their journey to conquering the emerging smartphone market.
Their pitch was a tiny NAND flash memory that sat in one of the executive pockets. To Steve Jobs, this was a game-changing solution for the iPod—compared to the less efficient traditional hard disk. As per the script, Jobs made Samsung the sole supplier of the flash memory. What he didn’t know was that Samsung had more ambitious goals beyond just supplying parts to Apple. As Geoffrey Cain puts it, the 2005 deal in Palo Alto gave Samsung “a launchpad from which to eventually get into smartphones, when they came out.”
Part 2: True Intentions are Revealed
Barely 5 years since Steve Jobs met the Samsung executives for the first time, the South Korean multinational released its first smartphone. In the snap of a finger, the supplier was now the challenger. “Samsung was the Apple iPhone chip supplier that dared to compete directly against Apple.”
To Jobs, this felt like one of Shakespeare’s tragic narratives of betrayal and backstabbing. In his owns words, he wanted to “launch thermonuclear war” on Samsung and the Android operating system that powered their devices. But the main issue was not that Samsung had manufactured a smartphone—it had more to do with the design. Samsung had allegedly copied Apple’s design for the iPhone—only with a different operating system.
Part 3: Friends Turn into Sworn Enemies
Whereas Steve Jobs was raring to take the fight to court, Tim Cook (Apple’s supply chain expert at the time) was cautious of the consequences. In particular, Samsung was a crucial supplier to the Cupertino-based company – it seemed the seeds planted by Samsung in 2005 were bearing fruits.
In an attempt to salvage the situation amicably, Cook and Jobs met Jay Lee (currently Samsung’s vice chairman) to present their grievances and propose to license some of the allegedly infringed patents. Samsung’s lawyers were not for the idea—and they instead argued that Apple was the one responsible for copying their patents.
In 2011, Apple filed a barrage of lawsuits in several countries against Samsung—with the former countersuing. The outcome? The once good friends were now sworn enemies. The war had been ignited. (PS: The 2011 lawsuits were only settled in 2018 after Apple was awarded $539 million as compensation).
Part 4: The War Rages on A Decade Later
The year is 2020, the world is in turmoil after a virus from Wuhan swept across every continent—crippling economies. But even in such a tragic time, Samsung and Apple still make the headlines. The flame ignited in 2011 is still burning.
Type “Samsung Vs…” on any search engine and the first thing that pops up is either “Samsung Vs Apple” or “Samsung Vs iPhone.” The chatter and arguments on social media grow to a fever pitch every time one of the companies announces their next flagship model. We’ve already seen Samsung’s S20 series and people are eagerly awaiting the release of the iPhone 12—to once again bring up the topic of who’s the alpha dog.
So, who leads the pack today?
Market Share – Who Bites the Largest Chunk of the Pie?
According to market data by Statista, Samsung has sat at the “Iron Throne” as the leading smartphone vendor (in shipments) since 2012. This was after the South Korean company dethroned Apple—with the latter taking over after the dramatic fall of Blackberry.
However, the global market share of these companies is highly segmented. For example, Apple had a commanding 58.46% share of the U.S. market as of May 2020, while Samsung settled for 25.11%. In Samsung’s home country (South Korea), the company dominated the smartphone market with a 65.98% claim—compared to Apple’s 23.15% market share.
It’s worth noting that data by Strategy Analytics and Counterpoint Research suggested that Apple briefly nabbed a higher market share (19%) than Samsung (18%) during the 4th quarter of 2019. The Cupertino-based multinational raked in an impressive $22.2 billion in profits during the same period—making it the company’s most profitable quarter ever.
This massive leap in the market was largely attributed to widespread popularity and the huge sale of the iPhone 11. On the other side of the world in Seoul, Samsung’s profits dropped by 38% during the final quarter of 2019. While this may seem to imply that Apple is clawing its way back to the top (in terms of shipments), it doesn’t tell the whole story.
There are other factors to consider. For example, iPhones are generally released during the final quarter of the year—right around the holiday season—while Samsung’s S-series flagships are often launched around May/June. With this in mind, it’s expected that Apple would be more popular during the turn of the year. Plus, Samsung shipped nearly 295 million devices along the year—compared to Apple’s 193 million.
If the rivalry between Apple and Samsung could be settled by who owns the largest piece of the pie—taking the overall statistics by face value—Samsung would easily come on top. But there’s more to the narrative than the number of products shipped.
Business Model – Different Paths, One Goal
What goes on behind the closed doors of Apple’s or Samsung’s war rooms? What underlying goal drives the respective company’s strategies? And how do the executives, marketers, and other strategists go about enforcing their plans for global domination? From a business model perspective, Samsung and Apple are like opposite sides of a coin—they’re different but ultimately converge at one common outcome.
On the one hand, Apple’s position in the market is largely attributed to a focused and meteoric rise. Although Samsung “moves” more devices, Apple makes significantly more profit per sale. The company thrives on integration, product design, and target marketing—pushing R&D down the list of priorities. Tim Cook and his team tend to monitor market developments, then they swoop in with a radical improvement to wow consumers when the market is ripe for the taking. This has been the underlying strategy since the era of the first iPods—and it’s still seen today. Think about; the multiple rear cameras, the notch, fingerprint sensors—all these iPhone features debuted after other players had done the risky or dirty work.
On the other hand, Samsung has a knack for diversifying its portfolio. Whether it’s medical electronics, smartphones, tablets, cellphone carriers, appliances, TVs, cameras, gaming systems, LED lights, sensors, semi-conductors, or flat panels—Samsung is game! The company’s main competitive strategy revolves around vertical integration.
Software/Hardware Comparison – Latest iPhone Vs. Samsung Flagships
Let’s take the feud down to the streets—away from the courts or board rooms. Which company currently boasts of the best flagship smartphone? For this mega face-off, we decided to compare Apple’s latest smartphone (the iPhone 11), to the Samsung Galaxy S10—i.e., they’re both from 2019. Although the South Korean company has already released the Samsung Galaxy S20 series, Apple is still a few months away from its 2020 release (the iPhone 12).
PS: Keep in mind that we used the base models for the comparison—with the iPhone 11 debuting 6 months after the Samsung Galaxy S10.
|Samsung Galaxy S10||iPhone 11|
|Display||6.1” at 1440×3040 pixels||5.8” at 1125×2436 pixels|
|Size||5.90 x 2.77 x 0.31 inches (149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8 mm)||5.67 x 2.81 x 0.32 inches (144 x 71.4 x 8.1 mm)|
|Weight||5.54 ounces (157 grams)||6.63 ounces (188 grams)|
|CPU||Snapdragon 855 or Exynos 9820||A13 Bionic Processor|
|Rear Cameras||16-MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 12-MP telephoto (f/2.4), and 12-MP dual-pixel wide (f/1.5, f/2.4)||12-MP wide (f/1.8), 12-MP telephoto (f/2.0), and 12-MP ultra-wide (f/2.4)|
|Front Camera||10-MP dual-pixel||12-MP|
|Storage||128GB or 256GB||64GB, 256GB, or 512GB|
|Unlocking Feature||Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor (under display)||Face ID|
|Operating system||Android 10||iOS 13.3.1|
On paper, each phone gets a punch or two over the other—but the world we live in is not built on paper. There are tons of factors to consider before taking up arms against either one of the two. What really matters is the overall experience—which is a combination of each phone’s ecosystem, OS, specs, and personal preferences.
Plus, most of us have already claimed our unwavering allegiance to one camp—and telling you otherwise is merely a remedy for another age-old debate. All in all, if you have the financial flex, you can’t go wrong with either of these devices—or their newer models.
Whoever Reigns Supreme, Keep Your Device in Pristine Condition
So, who do you think sits on the “Iron Throne” of the smartphone industry? Samsung or Apple? Whichever company tickles your fancy, one thing’s clear: they both manufacture the most-coveted high-end devices in the market.
As is expected of any valuable device, you need to safeguard your investment—and no, we’re not talking about any drastic measure. Installing a high-quality screen protector could go a long way in giving your iPhone or Samsung smartphone the royal treatment it deserves. Don’t let fanboys in the opposing camp find a reason to criticize your Samsung or Apple device for its scratches or cracks—get a Tech Armor screen protector today!