The king is dead: Can Samsung slay Apple and steal its crown?

apple store logo samsung lawsuitLast week when I argued that Apple should win its litigation battle against Samsung to preserve innovation and great products, Samsung fans, behaving like poor copies of their Apple counterparts, pounded me. But these Samsung fans got me thinking about whether Samsung is to Apple what Apple has been to Microsoft for the past decade.

Apple has excelled by taking Microsoft ideas and improving on them. The problem hasn’t been that Microsoft didn’t innovate; the company just didn’t execute. Microsoft manufactured smartphones and even had the idea for the iPhone before Apple did. Microsoft produced MP3 players before Apple had an Apple iPod Touch-like product on the market. They played music and did most of what the iPod Touch did years before the Touch came to market. Even though Microsoft wasn’t the first with tablets, Microsoft tablets were on the market years before the iPad.

Now granted, Microsoft’s PDA was a poor emulation of the Palm Pilot, which came out of the poorly executed Apple Newton. So we could argue about who was really first. But now Samsung is doing to Apple what Apple did to Microsoft and what Microsoft did to Apple with Windows. So is Samsung replacing Apple, just as Apple replaced Microsoft and as Microsoft replaced Apple? OK, now I’m even getting confused. I’m going to argue Samsung is replacing Apple, much as Samsung replaced Sony, and that this is bad for you, the consumer.

Samsung is faster

The consumer electronics market is speeding up. Smartphones in particular have moved quickly to 4G along with larger screens and faster processors. Apple, which once led this market in technology, always had issues, with the latest radios being late to both 3G and 4G. More recently, Apple has fallen behind in screen size. Even if the iPhone is 4 inches, the market appears to have already moved to 4.5 inches, placing Apple behind.

These diagramsis link clearly illustrate that Samsung copied Apple. But you can also see Samsung improved on Apple’s hardware designs. Samsung appears to be on the cutting edge of these changes far more often than Apple is (the Galaxy S III often ranks higher than the iPhone 4S in the market). This suggests Apple is having trouble keeping up, and Samsung, not Apple, is increasingly driving the high-profile markets they share (with the clear exceptions of iPods and PCs).

Consider the Galaxy Note that we reviewed earlier this week. In many useful ways it is superior to the iPad. Granted, the Galaxy Note lacks the sheer eye candy of a Retina screen, but in terms of being a useful product, the Note feels like a better execution than the iPad 2.

Whether you agree with this assessment of the Galaxy Note, you have to agree that Samsung is cycling its products quicker and thus improving them faster than Apple does, which should result in a sustainable execution advantage. Given this is how Samsung beat Sony, one can easily conclude that, using the same strategy, Samsung may be poised to beat Apple.

Apple slide

Besides Samsung’s speed advantages, there are early indications that Apple is getting weaker. I’m seeing reports out of the Apple stores that satisfaction is dropping as Jobs’ policies of focusing staff on customer satisfaction are replaced by policies focusing staff on sales (and Apple has had a history of underpaying staff). On top of this, the stores appear to be downsizing staff significantly. (Update: Many Apple stores are now hiring fired laid-off employees back.) For the first time, I’m hearing stories of sales experiences similar to those in traditional stores, in which Apple sales reps ambush folks walking in and appear to be operating on commissions now and want to close sales.

samsung galaxy tab 10.1 noteOn the product side, the product-refresh cycle has clearly slowed down. The expected iPhone launch (traditionally in June) has apparently slipped until September, the Mac refresh was very late, and unless something happens quickly, even the fourth-quarter refresh of the iPods (generally in August) will be late. Word out of Apple suggests postponed decisions, missed deadlines, and an increase in secrets leaking out of the company, all of which points to Apple having difficulty executing.

With Samsung increasing its level of execution and Apple falling off, one has the potential to replace the other, but the customer gets screwed.

Why you, the customer, are still screwed in a Samsung world

The issue comes back to customer satisfaction. Even with Apple’s apparent decline in execution, the company maintains by far the highest customer satisfaction and loyalty scores in the industry (they have dropped a lot of late, though). Samsung, on the other hand, sucks (the link is to Net Promoter Scores, which showcase both satisfaction and customer loyalty). I’ve personally bought a number of Samsung products, and the company’s service and support organization is truly horrid, particularly compared to Apple’s.

Customer satisfaction speaks to whether we are happy with what we purchase. Samsung’s scores suggest that if Samsung wins, consumers as a group will be less happy than they are now. Unless Samsung improves the way it treats customers, I can’t support that company replacing Apple at the top of the pile.

Guest contributor Rob Enderle is the founder and principal analyst for the Enderle Group, and one of the most frequently quoted tech pundits in the world. Opinion pieces denote the opinions of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of Digital Trends.

[Image credit: Apple Store Songquan Deng / Shutterstock]

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Mobile

Galaxy S10 leak shows radical tech that could help Samsung kill the notch

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Deals

Save up to $900 with the best smartphone deals for October 2018

Need a better phone but don't want to spend a fortune? It's never a bad time to score a new smartphone and save some cash. We rounded up the best smartphone deals available that can save you as much as $900.
Mobile

Sams's Club offers $100 gift cards for iPhone XR pre-orders

After months of rumors and speculation, Apple has finally taken the wraps off of the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Now that the phones are out, you might be wondering how you can get them for yourself.
Computing

Is the Pixelbook 2 still happening? Here's everything we know so far

What will the Pixelbook 2 be like? Has the Pixel Slate taken its place? Google hasn't announced it, but thanks to rumors and leaks, we think we have a pretty good idea of what the potential new flagship Chromebook will be like.
Mobile

Find out how to keep tabs on your phone with these helpful tracking tips

Need to keep tabs on the location of your cell phone or smartphone? Consult this guide for tips and tricks on how to track a phone, whether you're currently rocking Android, iOS, or something more old-school.
Mobile

Declutter your life with our favorite wireless chargers for Android and iPhones

We checked out the best wireless phone chargers to make tangles and uncooperative ports a thing of the past. Whether you have an iPhone or Android, find out which wireless charging pads are worth buying, and how their features compare.
Product Review

With both style and substance, the ‘budget’ iPhone XR is the iPhone to buy

Apple’s iPhone XS and XS Max are flagship smartphones that do everything and anything. The iPhone XR is more interesting, because while it looks as futuristic as its siblings, it’s also less expensive and more stylish.
Mobile

eBay’s new Instant Selling program turns old smartphones into new money

With eBay's new Instant Selling program, selling your smartphone just got easier. Immediately after listing your device, you'll receive a voucher that can be used toward the purchase of a new phone through the site.
Mobile

Motiv smart ring can use your walking pattern to unlock online accounts

Remember Motiv's activity tracking smart ring? It's back with a raft of new features that adds biometric identification and token authentication, all on a device that fits on your finger.
Mobile

Misfit's new Vapor 2 packs built-in GPS, NFC chip into a sleek smartwatch

Misfitlaunched its latest smartwatch in the Vapor lineup, the Misfit Vapor 2. The smartwatch comes with improved heart rate tracking, built-in GPS, runs Google's latest version of Wear OS, and more. Here's everything you need to know.
Mobile

Safeguard your new Apple smartphone with one of our favorite iPhone XS cases

If the iPhone XS is your next device, then you’ll want to shop for some proper protection now. That glass sandwich design is all too easy to scratch or crack, so make sure you snag one of the best iPhone XS cases to keep it looking good.
Computing

A canceled education order is increasing hopes for new Macbook model

With Apple's October 30 event fast approaching, rumors continue to surface about new Macs and iPad models. In the latest news, a canceled education order is stoking hopes for a new MacBook model.
Mobile

Apple's iOS 12.1 update will include a fix for iPhone XS, XR selfies

After months of betas, the final version of iOS 12 is here to download. The latest OS comes along with tons of new capabilities, from grouped notifications to Siri Shortcuts. Here are all the features you'll find in iOS 12.
Mobile

Apple could show off a new iPad Mini and AirPower charger at October event

Apple's sprung a surprise event on us, even though this year has seen loads of new Apple releases. So what's left to come? Quite a lot as it turns out. Here's what to expect from Apple's October 30 event.