Can you name two technology companies that make more money than Apple or Samsung? The former continues to rack up sales and profit records with a limited platform of products, while the latter is a conglomerate that sells anything it can to make a buck.
Here’s a quick look at what Apple sells.
- iPhone (many models, three sizes)
- iPad (many models, four sizes)
- Mac (many models; desktop, notebook)
- Watch (many cases, even more bands)
- Services (Apple Music, iTunes, et al)
Those four account for the lion’s share of Apple’s enormous and growing revenue and profits. The R&D budget now exceeds $10-billion a year, and the company continues to pay dividends and buy back stock. Yet the cash hoard grows.
What about Samsung?
The Korean conglomerate sells a far wider variety of products, including components sold to competitors. The product list reads like a grocery store list.
- Smartphones (expensive Galaxy and cheaper models)
- Tablets (yes, Samsung has tablets)
- PCs (from Windows to Chromebook)
- Smartwatches (big, ugly, not Android)
- VR Gear (literally, Gear)
That list seems to match up well with Apple’s list, no? But the list goes on. If it uses electricity, Samsung probably makes it.
- Home Theatre Systems
- Speakers (wireless)
- Displays (for PCs and mobile devices)
- Memory Storage (think SSD and RAM)
- CPUs (even for Apple)
- Wi-Fi and Accessories
- Washing Machines
- Ranges & Ovens
- Vacuum Cleaners
- Security Systems
This year it’s likely that Apple and Samsung will have similar profits, despite the Galaxy Note 7 debacle from 2016. And that’s not even a complete list of revenue sources for either company; just the ones most of us know about.
Apple has a laser-like focus on products and services and software that integrates and plays nice-nice with each other if a highly curated ecosystem. Samsung is more like the wild west where new products and services come and go every few months.
Both companies operate differently, too. Apple focuses on the user experience while Samsung focuses on moving products out the door, regardless of usability, or profitability. Every piece contributes to the whole, but the whole is not unified the way Apple’s hardware, software, and services integrate into a holistic user experience.
That said, Samsung has a greater presence in the so-called Internet of Things trend (IoT) while Apple builds hardware that integrates with in-house software, but provides a broader platform of software options for developers. Other than Tizen in a few less expensive phones and Samsung’s smartwatch, the Korean giant depends on others for software; Google’s Chrome and Android, plus Microsoft’s Windows.
Samsung isn’t afraid to cut prices to the bone to move products that do not have demand that meets supply, while Apple seldom has a sale on any product and prefers to bundle. Apple prefers the personal touch when showing and selling products (Apple Store) while I don’t know anyone who has ever met a Samsung employee. Likewise, Samsung isn’t afraid of stretching the truth regarding benchmarks and sales, while Apple relies on typical advertising hype (Apple TV – The Future Of Television).
Apple and Samsung could not be much more different, yet both rely on each other in an odd dance between rivals, vendor, and customer. The companies are fierce rivals in the smartphone industry, yet Samsung depends upon Apple’s purchase of major components (display, CPUs, RAM, SSD storage, etc) to maintain growth and profitability.
Strange bedfellows, Apple and Samsung.