Hong Kong (AFP) Oct 21, 2010
Apple has the iPhone and the iPad, Samsung has several smartphones and its new Galaxy Tab computer -- wherever Apple goes these days, it seems, the South Korean giant is sure to follow.
But, analysts say, the tech heavyweight rivals are not so much heading into battle as strolling hand in hand into an ever more profitable future.
"Apple and Samsung have a very good relationship," Young Park, a tech analyst for South Korea's Woori Investment and Securities, told AFP.
"Samsung is both a provider and a competitor to Apple. But they have very different strategies. Apple is aiming for the high-end market, whereas Samsung is geared more towards the mass market."
Up to a third of the components of the iPad and the iPhone are actually sourced by Apple from the South Korean firm, analysts say, meaning Samsung has a lucrative finger deep in Apple's pie.
"Apple is dependent upon Samsung to a certain extent for their components but Samsung is clearly benefiting from Apple's innovation," said Hong Kong-based Young.
"Apple has almost single-handedly created a new market for tablet computers, for instance, which Samsung will capitalise on. But Apple's products are dependent upon Samsung hardware."
Samsung Electronics refused to comment on its relationship with Apple but insists the company does invest in innovation and aims to "provide consumers with breakthrough technology."
It is also looking for an Apple-esque relationship with its customers.
"In 2009, we refined our brand story in an effort to bond with consumers more on an emotional level," a Samsung Electronics marketing spokesman told AFP.
"In 2010, we are continuing to spread our new brand story. Samsung is known for electronics, but has a more human mission as well.
"We are clear in our goals for Samsung. We are currently market leaders in a large number of product categories and business areas. In the future we want to be clear leaders in all of the categories and areas in which we compete.
"We want to be a loved brand, one with a loyal base and one that is in the front of consumer's minds as they make purchase decisions."
However, it is what can be done with the smartphone or tablet that counts. A smartphone or iPhone is just a phone and an iPad or tablet just an elaborate slab of glass without the applications and games that run on it.
Samsung's suite of Galaxy S smartphones and its tablet run on Google's Android, with applications available from the Android Market app store.
It has also produced a smartphone, the Focus, which will run on the new Windows Phone 7 platform.
Apple sells applications exclusive for its products through its own app store. Samsung also has its own fledgling app store, Bada.
And veteran Apple analyst Ashok Kumar, of New York investment bank Rodman and Renshaw, believes this is the true battleground.
"In the clash of the titans in this market, I believe there are only going to be two platforms standing in the end: Apple and Android," he told AFP. "And Samsung will be first among equals on Android.
"Samsung has a huge competitive advantage in the supply chain as it produces up to a third of the materials in smartphones and tablet computers.
"Purely on the hardware side of things, Samsung's products probably have the advantage but Apple's app store is where it stands apart.
Apple dominates the high-end market but, as the price of smartphones comes down, Samsung's market share will increase -- especially in emerging markets such as Brazil, China and India, Kumar says.
"Apple is a premium product, it is not really in their DNA to go for the mass market jugular. This is where Samsung can, and will, capitalise," says Kumar.
"Samsung may not have the "cool" factor that Apple has and Samsung is not really in Apple's league when it comes to innovation but they are a very, very successful follower. They are good for each other."
earlier related report
"We asked ourselves what would happen if a MacBook and an iPad hooked up," Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said as he unveiled two new laptop models. "This is the result."
A MacBook Air with a 13.3-inch (33.8-centimeter) screen and measuring just 0.68 inches (1.73 cms) at its thickest point and its 11.6-inch (29.5-cm) "younger brother" went on sale Wednesday.
They cost between 999 dollars and 1,599 dollars.
The laptop computers dumped hard drives or optical drives in favor of solid state drives that Jobs touted as faster, lighter and smaller.
The Apple chief executive showed off the new laptop computers at a special event devoted to the latest improvements to Apple's line of Macintosh computer hardware and software.
The invitation-only gathering at Apple's campus in Cupertino, California, was streamed live online but only to devices made by the company. It was only the second time that Apple webcast its notoriously exclusive press events.
Jobs said the theme was "Back to the Mac" with the company using lessons learned from successes with iPad tablet computers and iPhone smartphones to improve Macintosh machines.
A Mac App Store devoted to third-party software programs will open within 90 days and be built into the next-generation operating system, called Lion, which will be released for the computers in the middle of next year.
"Apple is smart to launch the App Store for Macs with apps that sync with iPads and iPhones," said Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps.
"In doing so, Apple is trying to maximize the value consumers get from buying more than one Apple device."
The new Macintosh operating system is being designed to be more compatible with multi-touch controls that have proven to be hits on iPads, iPhones and iPods.
"Multi-touch gestures have become really important and we think they can be really important on the Mac too," Jobs said. "Apps are important on the iPhone and iPad, and we think they can be important on the Mac too."
Extensive user testing has shown that giving Macintosh computers touchscreens would be a lousy idea because such controls on vertical surfaces are "ergonomically terrible," Jobs said.
Multi-touch controls for Macintosh machines will use touch pads.
Apple was also adding FaceTime software to Macintosh machines so people using the computers could make video calls to iPhone 4 or iPod Touch devices and vice versa, according to Jobs.
A beta version of FaceTime for Macintosh was released on Wednesday.
"Now, tens of millions of Mac users will be able to FaceTime with iPhone 4 and iPod Touches," Jobs said.
Apple also showed off improved versions of its popular iLike, iMovie, and Garage Band software tailored for tasks such as photo, video, and music editing on Macintosh computers.
Apple reported selling 13.7 million Macintosh computers in its recently ended fiscal year, and said that nearly 50 million of the machines are being used by people around the world.
Macintosh sales accounted for about a third of Apple's revenue, or 22 billion dollars, in the past year, according to chief operating officer Tim Cook.
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