Like children of divorcing parents, consumers wonder what to expect from the ongoing feud between Apple and Samsung. Many pundits claim that the case will slow innovation while others predict that competition in pricing and development will ultimately benefit consumers. Wish lists for technically savvy consumers include iPhones with larger screens, touchless interfaces, self-healing screens and HDTVs for people on-the-go.
History and statistics offer hints of 2014 updates
The relative power between the two communications giants Apple and Samsung could determine practical matters such as prices, technology timetables and marketing strategies. Although Apple appears to have won the legal battle, the details remain far from settled. Samsung seems to have made gains in the battle for hearts and minds especially in certain prime markets like Australia. Samsung is shipping more smartphones according to statistics compiled by TIBCO Spotfire. Samsung is countersuing for chips used in Apple mobile devices such as iPad Mini, iPad and iPod Touch models. The trial, which is scheduled for March of 2014, could block the sale of certain devices in key markets.
An Alix Partners’ 2014 Global Consumer Outlook analysis suggests that a winner-take-all attitude has developed between Apple and Samsung, but both companies are facing some serious public relations problems and slowdowns in new innovations. Apple’s anticipated iPhone 6 is only expected to have 2 GB of RAM, but most innovative applications require at least 4 GB for high-performance situations. Samsung’s models will probably have 4 GB of RAM but lack the 64-bit operating system to take advantage of Samsung’s powerful 64-bit chips.
Apple dusts off rumours about introducing HDTV annually but has yet to deliver on the promise. Customers have been demanding larger phone screens, but Apple delivered two four-inch screens while Android and Windows delivered larger screens. Although Samsung appears to be capturing the bargain-phone market, doubts about patent infringements prove troubling to consumers who worry that their devices could become technological dead-ends.
Samsung generally introduces a range of products at lower prices with many variations, so no single product receives extraordinary attention. Apple prefers to introduce major advances in technology at premium prices and make only minor modifications and refinements in later models. Apple jump-started the tablet market by introducing the iPad in 2010, but other technology companies are moving quickly to provide alternative versions at lower prices. Apple helps to protect its brand by developing hundreds of apps and exclusive content for consumers to use with its hardware products.
Samsung plans to replace the plastic casing of its Galaxy S5 with metal to create a look and feel of greater permanence and make its offering more like iPhone engineering. Shades of déjà vu, could a design patent-infringement case be on the horizon? Unlikely in this case because engineers have limited materials to use in designing devices: metals and plastics. Samsung is also experimenting with self-healing screens, a 4,000 nAh battery, curved displays and a 16-megapixel camera. The Korean conglomerate has also landed contracts to make customised smartphones for Pepsi and Coke with negotiations underway to do the same for FedEX.
According to an article in the International Business Times, Samsung will introduce curved screens on the Galaxy S5 in 2014. The screen will wrap around the edges so that users can tilt the device and read notifications and get the time without powering-up displays.
- The software that powers the new screen is called the Roll Effect.
- Samsung claims that curved screens have greater tensile strength and should be subject to fewer screen repairs.
- Other companies are working feverishly to introduce curved screens in 2014, and these include Apple and LG.
Samsung may wait to release its all-metal devices until the next generation, so plastic and faux leather could remain for the Galaxy S5 throughout 2014. The device’s 16-megapixel camera has been confirmed, but it remains unclear whether Samsung or Sony will develop the new sensor for the camera. Predictions for the Galaxy S5 include:
- 1,920 by 1,080 resolution
- 3,200 mAh battery
- 4K video recording
- HD Video with 4.4 KitKat
Another International Business Times article predicts that Samsung will offer a normal and premium model of the Galaxy S5, and consumers should be able to buy the Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 handset and smartwatch by April of 2014. Expect the Galaxy Gear device to be 20 percent thinner to satisfy consumer complaints about the earlier version.
An article in BGR.com suggests that Samsung wants to obliterate Apple in the tablet market, which is perfectly understandable given the history of patent-infringement lawsuits and astronomical awards that Apple has won. Samsung has consistently shipped more smartphones than its top rivals combined, and rumours suggest that the company is confirming its supply chain for parts and capacity to double its annual shipment of tablets in 2014. Don’t expect Apple to roll far from the tree and play dead, however.
Apple hasn’t been concentrating on innovation so much as consolidating its position as the industry leader, so its strategy of filing lawsuits and inhibiting competition makes some sense. However, communications technology won’t stagnate indefinitely, and Apple shows signs of getting the message. The company has relaxed some of its more aggressive litigation against nearly everyone but Samsung. Apple device upgrades in 2014 should follow the company’s standard strategy of offering improvements in existing products. The company’s decision to offer free software upgrades for life on its iWork software suite and MAC operating system indicate that Apple plans to stick to its pricing and marketing strategy. Consumers will be able to update their phones and tablets indefinitely, so keeping them repaired and maintained makes sound financial sense for owners of these Apple products.
Apple has been cagey about offering larger screens on the iPhone by claiming that the upgrade requires too many compromises in quality, but market forces indicate that the public wants larger screens. Many people expect that the iPhone 6 will come with a larger screen in the 4.6- to 4.8-inch range to compete with the 5-inch Galaxy S4.
If Apple caves on its pricing strategy to offer cheaper smartphones to compete with Samsung’s growing ownership of the lower end of the market, Apple could lose its profit margin. Expect Apple to prevent that scenario by triggering a new technology boom. Introducing something spectacular like fingerprint sensors, portable HDTVs, gesture controls or Apple smartwatches are possibilities that consumers might expect.
Apple plans to launch the iWatch, iPhone 6, a more affordable desktop Mac and possibly the 12-inch Retina laptop, which is a sharper, full-sized iPad. According to The Times of India, Apple is working on 4.8-inch and 6-inch screens for iPhones and revolutionary fingerprint and biometric technologies that will make the whole screen of mobile devices function as a scanner and sensor. This technology could ignite proprietary use of on-screen gestures to launch apps and functions. Consumers could see more development on this front in 2014 to expand the capabilities of the iPhone 5S, which uses fingerprints to unlock devices and authenticate app purchases.
Other Apple initiatives for 2014 could include the following technologies:
- Wearable devices to compete with Google
- Cheaper iMacs to boost desktop sales by 20 percent
- Higher resolution Retina screens
- Products that run on Intel chips instead of Apple’s A8 processors
- 12-inch MacBook screens that combines the portability of the 11-inch MacBook Air’s portability and the 13-inch version’s greater processing power and options.
- New home TV products or services
The recent patent award known as Project Looking Glass promises evolution in computing and workflow speeds not only for Apple OS X desktops but also iPads. You can enjoy a more immersive 3-D environment, or switch effortlessly to traditional 2-D desktop applications.
Apple could surprise everyone by entering the connected-home market and making wearable devices that control home environments and appliances. Apple’s iWatch doesn’t generate as much as excitement as a personal environmental controller that incorporates gesture technology, location-aware computing and cloud storage of personal records and information that is literally at your fingertip.
The other guys
Sometimes, the most exciting new technologies come from unexpected quarters, and other companies besides Samsung and Apple are working on such developments as fingerprint-enabled smartphones, curved screens and more powerful batteries. Cupertino, HTC, Konka and Pantech are working on some extraordinary developments in communications. LG has announced official details on the G Flex smartphone, which has a dramatic horizontal curve, six-inch display and a 13-megapixel camera. The new phone should provide a more natural visual interface for video calls and a self-healing capability for minor screen damage.
Technology has ups and downs, but accelerating communications demands around the world help to ensure that hardware and service options in the telecommunications industry will continue to expand despite high-profile feuds like the legal war between Apple and Samsung. People will continue connecting socially and commercially with individuals, companies and causes, and wearable communications offer new areas for growth and development such as smartwatches, portable televisions and smartglasses.
Specialisation continues to drive innovation, but taking care of your old devices preserves their resale or trade-in values and gives you backup devices to use in emergencies. Hyperspecialisation encourages programmers to develop intuitive apps, and new apps can often transform older devices by consolidating the functions that users need most without requiring the latest hardware upgrades.
Apple likes to remind consumers that iPhones now take more pictures than traditional cameras. Keeping your devices in top shape allows you to capture accurate images in all types of lighting and settings. Even the most demanding camera snobs enjoy the array of cool features and accessories that allow them to take hundreds of shots with optical zooms and automatic shooting presets. Keeping your repaired facilitates the following benefits:
- Use your spare phone to control your DVD player, stereo and TV.
- Screen damage constitutes the majority of smartphone repairs, and quality repair companies can make seamless repairs and replacements that are far superior to cheap replacement screens and do-it-yourself kits.
- An increasing number of larger, flexible and delicate screens makes scratches and cracks more likely to occur, so routine maintenance becomes essential for best device performance.
- The more lightweight and mobile devices become, the easier they are to damage and more difficult to repair, so finding a reliable repair service becomes increasingly essential.
- Maintaining older mobile devices helps you take full advantage of software upgrades that make outdated devices capable of running new applications and technologies.
Android and iPhone equipment dominates the market, but the competitive communications industry attracts other key players, and these companies are sure to spring surprises in 2014. The Apple and Samsung feud between the top two developers has many people guessing what impact lawsuits and patent-infringement cases will have on innovation and technology, but consumers can rest assured that market forces will continue to spur development and lower technology costs.
Upcoming innovations for 2014 are unlikely to offer any earth-shattering surprises, but this expectation could prove mistaken especially when Apple is involved. Elliptic Labs has developed a touchless interface for smartphones and tablets that could begin appearing in 2014. Regardless of hardware, new apps and services become increasingly important, and keeping your smartphone and tablet in good repair gives you the widest range of technological options for connecting on social media, handling personal affairs and generating business through communications marketing.
Apple offers free software upgrades for life, so anxious children worrying about Apple and Samsung divorcing can take some comfort in knowing that they’ll receive orphan support for their devices. Look to integrate new technology into your old devices by keeping them working properly and possibly passing them on to younger siblings.
Banner image credit: Ranixpsg from Deviantart