As if it could be any other way, the just-announced Samsung Galaxy S 4 is Samsung’s, and perhaps even Android’s, best phone yet. In fact, it very well may be the best smartphone on the market, period.
And take this, Fruitboys!
Samsung is riding high on the success of the Galaxy S III and from what I’ve seen, the Galaxy S 4 is a worthy successor with innovative features packed into a familiar housing. It’s a bit of a shame that Samsung announced the phone without giving a price or release date, but at this point, with Samsung the global sales and innovation leader in smartphones, it can do pretty much whatever it wants.
Another Galaxy smartphone has exploded and injured its owner. Bupyeong Fire Station in Incheon on Sunday said a 55-year-old man reported the previous day that his smartphone battery blew up in the pocket of his pants.
The man said he was carrying a Samsung Galaxy Note along with a spare battery in his pocket before they suddenly blew up. He is being treated for second-degree burns to his right thigh.
Samsung Electronics is the global leader in mobile phones, televisions and computer memory chips.
However, what the Korean company really wants is to be admired, and by successfully injecting creative input into its smart products in recent years, it finally seems to be earning its stripes as an innovator.
The main source of inspiration in the technology industry in recent years has been Apple, the maker of the revolutionary iPhones and iPads and Samsung’s bitter industry rival.
Not to be rude, but when was the last time you saw a smouldering hottie merrily chatting away into an Android phone? That’s right, you never have. Because giving in to Android is just another way of advertising that you care more about PHP than people.
Hot people do not use Android. If they’re time-rich, cash-poor hipster cuties, they’ll be sporting that ubiquitous symbol of cool, the iPhone. It’s those apps, man. I don’t understand how some people make it past an artisanal card shop without Instagramming it for the boys back at the agency.
But they’re also utterly aesthetically insensitive, apparently not realising that every Android device ever made is hideously, hideously, hideously fugly. I mean, seriously: what is wrong with these handset manufacturers? It’s like their design brief was: “create a carbuncle”.
That’s what Samsung is up against. Personally, I like how the newer Samsung models look. At any rate, I don’t think they look like carbuncles. And if you’re tech-oriented and like kick-ass displays (like me), you’re going to like Samsung. But even I have to admit they’re nowhere near the user experience my iMac or iPad are. Is this because TouchWiz still leaves a lot to be desired? I don’t know.
Samsung is an innovator and has risen up the BCG rankings by 8 places. Behind the scenes Samsung invests heavily in its engineers’ innovation capabilities. While we’ve all been watching the court case, Samsung has gone from strength to strength. And is now neck and neck with Apple on revenues. 2013 could be the year we look to Korea for who is defining the future of tech.
Consider the phablet. Back in 2011, when Samsung first unveiled the Galaxy Note—a 5.3-inch smartphone that was big enough to be a minitablet, hence the ugly portmanteau—the world’s tech pundits couldn’t stifle their giggles. Was it a phone? Was it a tablet? Was it a joke? Smartphone industry blog Boy Genius Report called the Note “the most useless phone I’ve ever used,” adding: “You will look stupid talking on it, people will laugh at you, and you’ll be unhappy if you buy it.” Gizmodo argued that the Note “isn’t just designed poorly—it’s hardly even designed for humans.” I couldn’t resist joining the chorus. With the Note, I wrote, Samsung was hoping to stoke a certain kind of envy in young men all over the world. The firm was banking on the fact that “when you whip a phone as big as the Galaxy Note out of your pants, some dudes will think you’re a god.”
But the joke’s on me and my smart-ass tech journo colleagues. Confounding our predictions, Samsung sold 10 million Notes in 2012, making it one of the most successful smartphone launches in history. Then, in the fall, Samsung launched the Galaxy Note II, an upgraded version with an even larger screen—and it promptly sold 5 million of them, and is on track to sell 20 million over the course of the year. The Note’s success has spawned a spate of copycats, with phablets becoming the hottest new smartphone category. Over at Quartz, Christopher Mims smartly argues that as ridiculous as it looks, the phablet is becoming the computing device of choice in the developing world. “If your budget is limited, why deal with two different upgrade cycles and two different devices, when you can put all of your money into a single device?” he argues. Mims believes that the Note’s success may even force Apple to build a rival phablet.
Since I switched to the Galaxy Note, I can’t even look at an iPhone without giggling. It’s just so puny, like a shriveled appendage or something.
To be sure, they’re upset about the security lapse. But they’re also upset that according to “experts,” the South now lags seven to 10 years behind the North in space launch development. Which really ticks them off, because the South has 39 times the GDP or the North, 19 times the per capita income, and was ranked the world’s fifth most scientifically competitive nation by the IMD.
The problem, they say, is—wait for it, wait for it—the bilateral missile agreement Seoul has with los Estados Unidos. This agreement, says the Chosun, blocks Korea from not only building long-range missiles, but also developing rockets for space exploration. Even with the Naro project, the has inspected the Agency for Defense Development several times to make sure no missile parts have gone into it. Which, IMHO, is a dick move.
At any rate, the Chosun notes there’s no reason South Korea should be behind the North in space technology, that Japan and China have space programs, and Seoul needs to get with the program and present a new national vision and strategy for science and space development.
Marmot’s Note: I’m on record supporting South Korea’s development of not only long-range missiles, but also nice, shiny MIRV warheads to sit on top of those missiles, so sure, I’m down with rockets for “space exploration.” Whether space exploration should be a national priority is another matter. There was a time the Soviets were ahead of the United States in space technology, and look where that got them.
Sam acknowledges that Samsung grew rapidly and made smart business decisions:
During the late 80s and early 90s it seemed all but inevitable that Japan would become the dominant manufacturing power in the world. Of course, today the country struggles against South Korean rivals, battered by a hostile exchange rate and sky-high labor costs, but it was Lee’s foresight around two decades ago that allowed Samsung to get the jump on the likes of Sony. He saw Japanese firms dragging their feet on digital technology, creating an opportunity for Korean companies to muscle in on their turf with better, more efficient business practices.
However, he holds no punches on the negatives of the chaebol family system and its relation with government:
While Lee Kun-hee once implored his workers to “change everything but your wife and kids,” that change may not go far enough for Samsung. The traditional chaebol model has helped the company become one of the most successful in the world, but its conservative values are unlikely to help it become a major force for innovation. Lee Kun-hee’s controversial time in charge has undeniably brought the company success — for Samsung to become a truly loved brand, however, it must start looking to a new generation of leadership that prioritizes design and originality over ruthless competition.
Although the article is linked here, it does not necessarily mean that its opinions are shared or endorsed by this blog. Any ways, a very lively comments section- very Marmotesque.
That means no more online gaming or downloading content on the XBox.
On a positive note, it also means no longer getting pawned by Korean middle school kids in COD.
Microsoft Korea is saying this is because of Korea’s computer gaming law that bans those under 16 from playing online games past midnight. Microsoft Korea said it would be too difficult to implemented a system that would suspend service to minors at specific times of the day, or block minors at the request of their parents in a worldwide service.
Local game services are following the law, but global services like XBox Live are not. Anyway, terminating service for minors was the best option to keep XBox Live alive in Korea, Microsoft Korea explained.
Even non-minor users of XBox Live in Korea will need to undergo I-Pin verification through XBox’s homepage.
Blotter notes the irony of the gaming law, namely, that it does not apply to offline gaming.
I’m not wild about the title, or actually sure what it means, but Kelly hits on several familiar notes regarding intellectual property rights and what he feels is a need for an injection of innovation — something he says requires a profound shift at Korea’s very core.
Moving Korea toward more innovative production will require two major changes, perhaps so enormous they should be called cultural. First, Korean education needs to emphasize creativity and free-thinking more. Far too much pre-college training focuses on the rote recitation of answers with little underlying comprehension.
Drawing from his experience as an educator here, he says that the system…
…encourages an intense “copying culture” in which the instructor’s thoughts are treated like ideal answers to open-ended questions and parroted back.
And what would a piece on South Korean innovation be without a Samsung vs. Apple reference?
When the iPhone hit and Koreans learned of it, Korea’s telecom oligopolists panicked. They pressed the Korean government to maintain a protectionist security standard to prevent the iPhone’s arrival for two years, while Samsung effectively reverse-engineered the iPhone to create a competitor.
Supplier issues, patent losses, competitive pressures and no dynamite announcements of blockbuster products for the holiday season has weighed heavily and since August, Apple stock has gone from just over $700/share to $540, a loss of over 23%. It’s been barely three months since the big San Jose verdict, however has the tide already begun to turned against Apple?
Kim operated websites which distributed pirated copies of movies, television shows, software and workout videos via internet download.
Some of the pirated materials were television shows illegally downloaded from Korean broadcasters. The programs were marketed to the Korean community in the United States. U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones also ordered Kim to forfeit $409,776 to the government as proceeds of his crime. Judge Jones said Kim was a “one man wrecking ball” against the industries whose work he stole.
“This defendant operated websites that engaged in copyright infringement on a massive scale,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “By stealing and selling the work of others, he damaged people working in many industries – software and video production companies, musicians and movie companies, even broadcast companies in Korea. All were denied income by his theft.”
It appears that Korean authorities alerted the Immigration authorities and Homeland Security in the United States of Kim’s wrong doings. Why the harsh sentencing?
In asking for a prison sentence at the high end of the guidelines range, prosecutors wrote: “Mr. Kim created a one stop shop for pirated content that included music and videos as well as: software, video games, fitness videos, recorded sporting events, television shows, and movies including pre-release movies still in theaters. His ability to market to an immigrant community and offer stolen content from a foreign country magnified his ability to go unnoticed and generate substantial personal profits.”
According to the JoongAng Ilbo, the KCNA had reported in July that the “Achim” (“Morning”) tablet was growing popular among North Korean students, and last month, it even broadcast footage from the tablet PC factory, which I can only hope has some cool commie name like “People’s Tablet PC Production Factory No. 1″ or something.
Anyway, in the link above, the JoongAng Ilbo ran a couple of photos from the fair (courtesy AP), including one of a tablet design guy showing off his goods.
Watercooler talk, newspaper editorials and Internet postings convinced us last week that South Koreans considered the verdict more than another turn in the long dispute between Apple and Samsung – it’s a slap in South Korea’s face by the United States.
On Monday, a Joong Ang Ilbo columnist wrote that the verdict was “no surprise” and is “the ‘American style’ of doing things when their interests are threatened. It is the yardstick Americans have stuck to in every economic and business battle. Anything that Americans are not tops at is evil and dangerous.”
Whew. We’ll put that down as an extreme expression of the public sentiment. A survey released Monday by Gallup Korea at last anchored the mood with some hard data. The results are sure to please Samsung executives, as they show the vast majority of the 606 South Koreans who were polled have accepted the company’s spin on the outcome.
I have to say, I was a bit surprised the results were as lopsided as they were. Sure, Samsung might be seen by some as a national champion, but there are many who also see it as the epitome of corporate evil—and not without reason. Surely, I thought, there’d be plenty of left-minded Koreans who’d hold their nose and root for the Americans just to see them stick it to Samsung.
Clearly I was wrong.
Of course, this may have nothing to do with nationalism—it could be just that many Koreans recognize the potential harm the verdict has done to consumer choice and IT innovation. Right?
To build a country and defend one is not the same work. It is not entirely wrong to claim Americans discovered, invented and created almost every modern cutting-edge technology. They were great builders, but not such good defenders. If they had not been self-indulgent with their pioneering works and endeavored to stay on top of the market with innovations, the latecomers would not have dared to jump into the fray and attempted to outperform them.
But somewhere down the road, American cars and semiconductors became mediocre and failed to appeal to consumers. Turning the blame on competitors for their underperformance has not helped American industry before and won’t now.
One newspaper article questioned if Apple, having lost its drive for innovation, can merely appeal to American patriotism to survive. Without deep self-retrospection and a dedication to innovate, the strategy of relying on past supremacy cannot save the American economy.
To be fair to Yang, if there’s a group of people exceptionally qualified to recognize economic jingoism, it’s Korean journalists.
Still, given the nature of the case, you’d think it wasn’t the American company that lacked the ability to innovate, unless one defines innovation as “shamelessly ripping off your competitors.”
The FTC also plans to look into aggressive and allegedly unfair patent lawsuits filed by some multinational firms as a way to hinder the advance of Korean businesses in their markets or to profiteer by requesting too high licensing fees.
“The reason (behind the investigation) is that multinational firms have reportedly enforced their patents in an unfair manner through discriminative royalties policies, tie-in sales and unfair conditions in licensing contracts,” the official said.
It’s tempting, after such a sweeping verdict in Apple’s favor, to conclude that Samsung’s decision to mimic the iPhone was a terrible mistake. The firm will now be on the hook for at least $1 billion in damages, and the judge could triple that amount. Samsung will likely face sales injunctions on many of its products, and will be forced to quickly design around Apple’s patents in its current and upcoming devices, if not to pay a steep licensing fee. Other companies that took inspiration from Apple—including Motorola, HTC and, at the top of the chain, Google—will also be stung by this decision.
But if you study what’s happened in the mobile industry since 2007, a different moral emerges. It goes like this: Copying works.
Of the three paths open to tech companies in the wake of the iPhone—ignore Apple, out-innovate Apple, or copy Apple—Samsung’s decision has fared best. Yes, Samsung’s copying was amateurish and panicky, and now it will have to pay for its indiscretions. But the costs of patent infringement will fall far short of what Samsung gained by aping Apple. Over the last few years, thanks to its brilliant mimicry, Samsung became a global force in the smartphone business. This verdict will do little to roll back that success.
- If you were wondering what they were saying in Samsung Land, here you go. Happy campers they are not. Outside of Samsung, though, I’ve got to say, the reaction seems rather muted. For blog hits alone, I was sort of hoping for Gaza-like protests of angry Korean tech geeks smashing iPads and burning Steve Jobs in posthumous effigy. Alas, there haven’t been any. At least among the people around me, Samsung doesn’t engender the same warm, fuzzy feelings that Apple seems to beget in the United States—and not entirely without reason, some might argue.
- Laugha while you can, Apple Boy. Samsung might launch what North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recently called an “all-out counter-offensive” on Apple when it releases the iPhone 5 in October:
We are talking about utility patents covering basic smartphone functions here. And there’re few things more basic than smartphone connecting and using high-speed mobile data network. With LTE development starting in 2004 from NTT Docomo proposal and ending in a standard in 2009, it is safe to say – Apple had very little to do with it.
In fact, according to Daum, Samsung, LG and Ericsson own 60% of LTE patents worldwide.
And we didn’t even mention such mobile heavy-weights at the time as Nokia, Motorola (Google), or RIM.
And you thought chipmaker cross-licenses Apple is getting from suppliers to iPhone 5 will protect it from counter suits?