Samsung versus Apple is one of the fiercest mobile tech rivalries ever and, with the right timing and its latest “phablet” device, the South Korean giant may have found the right formula to steal customers from the iPhone maker.
Last week, Samsung released the Galaxy Note 7, a 5.7 inch “phablet” that comes with an S Pen stylus. It’s the company’s latest high-end premium device that packs some top features, such as an iris scanner to unlock the smartphone, a curved edge screen, and the impressive camera technology showed off with the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge earlier this year.
Analysts have hailed the device as an example of how the company can remain at the leading edge of innovation. The Note 7 will “act as a premium showcase which will improve Samsung margins, [and] define how Samsung’s strategy differs from Apple and Huawei,” analysts at IHS said.
Now Samsung has chosen to release this in the summer at its own event – instead of a major consumer electronics show in Europe as is the custom. The timing is key as it comes just a month before Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 7.
Apple has recently been struggling with declining iPhone sales and, if the leaks are anything to go by, the iPhone 7 could be a lackluster launch with nothing really to make it stand out. There will be plenty of iPhone users who bought the iPhone 6, are coming to the end of a two year contract and are now looking at an upgrade. If Samsung gets the marketing right on this one, it could manage to poach Apple customers looking for a standout device.
UBS noted last week that there are 200m iPhone users yet to upgrade to a large screen, and Samsung could go after this group as well. After all, large-screen devices are one of the fastest-growing segments in the smartphone market, while the broader industry slows down.
The Note 7 may be Samsung’s best chance in a long time to make a dent in Apple’s customer base. For years the Cupertino colossus has seen sales of its money-maker rising while Samsung lost its way with the Galaxy S5. Now with the South Korean company’s revamped portfolio of top-range smartphones in the S7, S7 Edge and Note 7, the tables have turned.
It will by no means be an easy battle. Speak to any long-time Apple user and they will say the idea of switching from iOS to Android is daunting, even though it’s not that hard. And that’s what Apple has done so well – lock users into its software ecosystem of iTunes, Apple Music, Apple Pay and the rest of its services. No wonder it has become its fastest-growing segment in terms of revenues.
But if Samsung can break the shackles of Apple’s ecosystem, it has the chance to wrap users in its own world of smartphones, virtual reality, payments and wearables. All eyes are now on Apple and the iPhone 7.