Tablet Wars

Photo by DailyM

In order to make a relevant comparison between two very similar products, and regarding all the recent controversies between Apple and Samsung, I have chosen to talk about the two latest tablets launched by both competitors.

I have chosen to talk about the iPad2 which has been well received by consumers; and compare this product’s sales performance with that of the Samsung galaxy tab 10.1.

Before we start to study the details of each company and their respective product on the market, it is important to identify that both products are technologically similar. This means that theoretically, if these two products were given to a user without any context and environment, this user could get the same satisfaction from either product. It seems evident that the iPad2 has over performed in comparison to Samsung’s tablet. The aim is to understand firstly, why the iPad2 has had so much success in the current market; and secondly, why the galaxy tab, a similar product, has been so commercially dismal.

Everybody knows about Apple’s history; one of the most relevant things to remember is that Apple has been one of the most influential companies in global business during the last three decades. The reason for this success is directly linked to its spiritual father, Steve Jobs. This smart, visionary man has dared all his life to break the rules and propose something new. People are willing to pay a high price for the iPpad2 because they know that for their money they will get the most advanced product on the market in terms of performance, design, price and product. The total control of the distribution channel enables Apple to control the flow of products sold and manage any artificial shortage. Apple needs a quick return on investment, so they have to motivate the early adopters to buy their innovative products very fast. If they create a shortage, people will be much more eager to buy this new product because they know that they will probably not get it the next day.

Moreover, Apple has managed to create a social and individual influence. Socially, the iPad is supposed to be targeted at the mass market, as Steve Jobs said Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of customers, they would continue to open their wallets”. In reality the high price of Apple products and its limited availability stands for a luxury product. The main question we ask each other concerns the utility of the iPad. People can’t use it as a laptop; it’s too big to use it as a phone; and there are a lot of cheaper E-book readers: the Amazon Kindle for instance. The major reason for the iPad2’s success is Apple’s brand image and users’ perception of quality. Its utility, which should be its main strength is in reality however, a weakness. As we have said previously, iPad’s intrinsic utility is very limited and directly linked to Apple’s environment (Itunes, AppStore) and all parallel platforms (Cydia, installous…).

Samsung has developed a giant hi-tech manufacturer image during the last two decades. The strategy of the Korean company at the beginning was similar to all Asian companies. These companies have indeed used the same strategy to take benefit of western companies’ R&D. They have employed an incremental copy strategy. In so doing, Samsung’s R&D skills haven’t developed as fast as Apple’s because the company has had more of a “follower” strategy. We can consider Samsung’s strategy as a reactive move. Consequently, Samsung has never revolutionised any market. In people’s mind, Samsung can manufacture very good quality, cheap computers, televisions, mobile phones… but without any originality.

“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” Steve Jobs… this means that reactive movers are always late in the market. Of course they can make profit but they can’t propose anything new because it’s too late. Consequently Samsung today has a good reputation concerning its products’ quality but has something less than Apple: a “karma” around its products. Everybody is pleased with their Samsung product but not especially proud of having it. As a conclusion Samsung is a good brand but an undifferentiated one.

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