By Barry Young
The NY Times Business section had two articles of interest on Monday, February 2/11.
· Challenging Apple’s Cool by Brian X. Chen
· Where Apple and Dick Tracy May Converge by Nick Bilton
The 1st article implied that by exploiting their product development approach of using its vast R&D and marketing resources, Samsung was able to challenge Apple in its staple of consumer oriented electronics products. Basically, Samsung asked the market what it wanted while Apple (at least as long as Steve Jobs was alive) figured out what the market needed and delivered it. The 2nd article described some of Apple’s efforts leading up to a flexible smart watch to serve as an iPhone/iPad peripheral.
Smart watches are nothing new, but there have been recent rumors that Apple will release a PMOLED watch that uses Bluetooth to communicate with an iPhone or iPad to perform such groundbreaking functions as displaying the caller ID so you don’t have to open the iPhone/iPad. The article also discusses Corning’s willow glass, which is 100um thick and can be used in roll to roll production. Somehow, the NYT left out the groundbreaking efforts of Samsung’s OLED group, which has demonstrated a range of flexible displays, has a joint development effort with Corning to use Willow and has invested billions in Capex to bring flexible displays and OLEDs to commercial products, which should start production in 2013.
When read back to back, the two articles give the exact wrong impression. Apple gets very little credit for its creativity in developing whole new categories of products, while Samsung is lauded for being able to exploit its fast follower role and the use of “focus groups”. Without the original invention, what would the focus groups talk about? The second article credits Apple with pioneering work in flexible displays, while no mention is given to the efforts of Samsung to invest the capital to create real products.
The reality is that both companies are providing leadership in the consumer electronics world and that Apple has been able to exploit existing and new technologies, while Samsung has used its financial strength and component presence to re position the IC and display industry in creating some of the most imaginative consumer electronics products. Using the new technologies, these companies should put new life into an industry that has plateaued and we should be the beneficiaries of foldable products, curved TVs we can talk to and a wide range of flat and curved spaces that have electronics and displays to enhance our life.