Is Samsung the new Apple?

Samsung's addition of the Android-based Galaxy Player to its line of mobile and entertainment options could create Apple's biggest mobile/media rival.

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Yesterday, Samsung confirmed that it will be unveiling a portable media player called the Galaxy Player at CES next week. The Galaxy Player is Android-based and its design and specs are clearly derived from Samsung's Galaxy S smartphone. Those specs are:

  • 4-inch Super Clear LCD screen (800 × 480 resolution)
  • 1GHz processor
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • GPS
  • 3.2-megapixel rear camera
  • VGA front-facing camera
  • HD video playback
  • microSD card slot
  • SoundAlive audio enhancing technology
  • Supports Samsung Apps and Android Market
  • 1200mAh removable battery

    If those specs make you think the Galaxy Player is essentially just a Galaxy S minus the calling capabilities, you're right. The player is clearly design with the same market and intent as Apple's iPod touch (all models of which have been derivatives of an iPhone model that hit the market a few months earlier).

    One key difference is that an iPod touch is an ideal choice for anyone who wants all the iPhone features minus a specific carrier (particularly here in the U.S.). Android handsets, on the other hand, are available on virtually every carrier in the world. The diversity of manufacturers also allows for Android devices that are specifically designed for media and/or gaming. I'm not sure if that will impact sales or the popularity of the Galaxy Player relative to the iPod touch, but it is noteworthy difference between Apple and Samsung's offerings.

    Of course, this isn't the first time that Samsung has borrowed some pages from Apple's playbook. In fact, with the addition of the Galaxy Player, Samsung is almost seems duplicating Apple's mobile and media strategy to the letter: A smartphone with a media focus (Galaxy S), early adoption of new technologies like NFC (Nexus S ), a well-designed and successful tablet (Galaxy Tab – so far the only tablet to come close to the iPad in terms of mass appeal), its own online store for music and video (Media Hub), smart TVs that offer access to personal media and Internet services, its own mobile app marketplace (Samsung Apps), and now a media player that sports almost all the same features of its other devices. The company also partners heavily with Google to deliver a "true" Android experience without major customizations (something similar to Apple's mindset about not allowing carriers to customize the iPhone in any way).

    Samsung isn't alone in pursuing this mix of strategies, of course. They have been the most broadly successful, however. The success of the Galaxy Tab versus other Android tablets is a great example. In fact, out of all the iPhone/iPad/iTunes-killers out there, Samsung is the biggest competition for Apple because it is pursuing the same broad-based strategy in a very good way instead of picking just one or two areas.

    I don't really see Samsung killing off Apple in any of these areas, but the company is building an equally large and attractive ecosystem of solutions that will attract a very solid customer base. As ITWorld's Peter Smith points out, that could easily make Samsung the dominant Android manufacturer and give the company some serious clout in controlling the development of Android over the coming years.

    Ryan Faas writes about personal technology for ITworld. Learn more about Faas' published works and training and consulting services at www.ryanfaas.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanfaas.

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