By Sandra Birungi
Apple’s iPhone is being given the run for its money with Samsung’s Galaxy S III smart phone.
Samsung has so far taken up 28% of the profits in the phone market while Apple remains with the highest but quickly fading 72%.
Although similar, both companies are somehow different. Samsung Electronics, a major part of South Korea’s expansive Samsung Group, makes computer chips and flat-panel displays as well as a wide range of consumer products including refrigerators, washers and dryers, cameras, vacuum cleaners, PCs, printers and TVs. Samsung invests heavily in studying existing markets and innovating inside them.
“We get most of our ideas from the market,” said Kim Hyun-suk, an executive vice president at Samsung. “The market is a driver, so we don’t intend to drive the market in a certain direction,” he said.
That’s in contrast to Apple’s founder Steven P. Jobs philosophy who said consumers don’t know what they want.
Before Apple’s iPhone 5 release, Samsung had already started selling phones with bigger displays, like the 5.3-inch screen Galaxy Note which is called phablet.
Samsung outspends Apple on research and development: $10.5 billion, or 5.7 percent of revenue, compared with $3.4 billion, or 2.2 percent. (Samsung Electronics is slightly bigger than Apple in terms of revenue — $183.5 billion compared with $156.5 billion — but Apple is larger in terms of stock market value.)
Designers of the Galaxy S III say they drew inspiration from trips to Cambodia and Helsinki. “The research process is unimaginable,” said Donghoon Chang, an executive vice president of Samsung who leads the company’s design efforts. “We go through all avenues to make sure we read the trends correctly.” He says that when the company researches markets for any particular product, it is also looking at trends in fashion, automobiles and interior design.