The benefits of being a fast follower and the geopolitical smart phone wars

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase

Image representing Samsung Electronics as depi...

Reading David Pogue’s recent review of Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, the point of which was basically that it was a failure (“nobody will buy this watch and nobody should”) was interesting since it was the first really negative review of a Samsung product in quite a while. Like Business Insider points out, Samsung has been a darling of the media and the markets lately, up until this launch. Their profits were still impressive last week, but the reviews of Gear shows that they should have perhaps stuck to being a fast follower instead of trying to lead a product category. It is clear that they rushed this one out to be ahead of Apple for once. It is a product looking for a demand, instead of a product satisfying a specific customer need. Pogue lists all the features they’ve crammed in there, most of which will clearly never be used.

But with the iWatch still likely not to see the light of day until Q2 next year or later, maybe they should have waited a bit longer and done some more consumer testing. Or just waited for Apple to define, with their deft touch, what the actual consumer need is, and then just copy the product like they normally do.

The war between Apple and Samsung is heating up to be the key technological rivalry of this time (even if Amazon phones are getting closer and closer to launch!), since the comparison with Google/Android is hard to make, with all driver-less cars and non-Google Android phones out there clouding the comparison.

The rivalry is even taking on geopolitical overtones. Witnessing product excitement from Asia, there is a definitely a case of regional heroes going on. While many of Apple’s recent 9 million sales clearly came from China, most Asians clearly feel that Samsung’s products are more targeted to them (not to mention Xiomi phones), and Americans feel the same way about iPhones.

Farhad Manjoo and Matt Yglesias had Apple and Google take each other on in a war games scenario recently, it would have been even more fun had they done it between Apple and Samsung (Samsung could rope in ships from their ship-building business).

In the Apple-Samsung war, we even saw Obama getting involved lately, when he overturned a veto on selling some older Apple products resulting from a Samsung lawsuit. Thankfully, in case of an actual war, the US would still have command of the South Korean forces, as discussed in Hagel’s latest visit.

Images from Crunchbase

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