The Smartphone War is Becoming Extremely Competitive

Galaxy S4 iPhone 5 HTC One

Rival smartphones, from left to right: Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, iPhone 5.

While the BlackBerry might have pioneered the smartphone industry, the mobile space has become quite a different playing field in the past half-decade. That’s because when Apple entered the market close to six years ago, it completely changed everything.

Everyone outside of Steve Ballmer has wanted an iPhone since it came out. Even some Google executives. Apple has surely almost saturated the American market with the iPhone nowadays, but still manages to sell millions of the handset each time it releases an iterative refresh. 

It’s not hard to blame consumers for showing such interest in the iPhone. Prior to its release, business professionals would flock to BlackBerry, and average users were left to choose from a Nokia feature phone or those awkward, not-quite-a-smartphone PDAs. Yuck.

Palm TX PDA

The personal digital assistant (PDA) was an awkward predecessor to the modern smartphone.

Google too realized the potential that a growing smartphone industry had at the time, releasing its Android platform just months after the original iPhone launched. But, scattered across various mobile carriers and smartphone manufacturers, Android didn’t take off quite as fast.

Fast forward to present date, however, and Android too is doing extremely successful alongside the iPhone. In fact, market share research shows that Android is positioned well-above iOS in worldwide usage. Not quite so in the United States, where the iPhone still reigns, but impressive nonetheless.

Samsung in particular has been a top smartphone vendor, thanks in part to its popular Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II devices. So, rightfully so, you can understand why Apple might be cautiously pessimistic about the Galaxy S4.

iPhone 5 Love

Rival handset maker HTC has also gone on the offensive against Samsung’s new Galaxy S4 smartphone, knowing the type of buzz that controversial social media content of this nature can generate:

For good measure, you can count LG in the mix too. While the company might be a smaller player in the mobile space as of late, LG aggressively marketed against the Galaxy S4 smartphone with this Times Square banner ad prior to the Samsung UNPACKED event.

lg time square ad

Samsung is not off the leash itself, as it too has recently been involved in bashing competition through the media. Samsung’s mobile chief J.K. Shin, in a recent question-and-answer session with The Wall Street Journal (via 9to5Google), talked about how Windows-based products are not selling well. Why not? Android.

The golden words:

WSJ: What about your relationship with Microsoft? Has it changed after Nokia began to work more closely with Microsoft on Windows devices?

Mr. Shin: Smartphones and tablets based on Microsoft’s Windows operating system aren’t selling very well. There is a preference in the market for Android. In Europe, we’re also seeing lackluster demand for Windows-based products.

Samsung also kickstarted an aggressive — and expensive — marketing campaign last year, most notably involving TV commercials that mock customers standing in line for the latest iPhone. The South Korean handset maker has also gone after business professional BlackBerry users, touting the security features of its Galaxy smartphones.

Here’s the Samsung commercial that mocks iPhone launch lineups:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nf5-Prx19ZM

Here’s a similar ad that goes on the offensive against BlackBerry:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fcUf4d-Y3s

I could take a quick glance at all of the RSS feeds that I follow on Google Reader, and find numerous additional examples of smartphone maker A bashing smartphone maker B. The underlying message is that, in this day and age, the smartphone industry has become more competitive than ever before. Consumers are also more connected with brands and the media than ever before, especially through social networks, which is likely one of the primary reasons for these bitter rivalries.

Samsung-The-Next-Big-Thing

While it’s a disappointing reality that these companies are beginning to focus more of their efforts on marketing, versus actual innovation, perhaps it’s just a sign of the times. Advertisers attempt to throw every different brand and product possible at consumers these days, through any venue possible, right down to those annoying sponsored news feed and river posts on both Facebook and Twitter. And that’s that.

How do you feel about the competitive nature of the smartphone industry?

Post a response / What do you think?