Few technology gadget makers on planet earth are like Apple, though many claim to have better products, or, conversely, steal whatever they can from our favorite Cupertino, CA Mac maker. If hardware is hardware, and visual designs can be copied with ease, then what makes Apple different? And, how does that lead to Apple’s enormous success?
First, we need to understand that differentiation is a key component of product marketing. That’s why most products do not look and feel and perform exactly the same ways as competing products. Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watch are good examples of how Apple succeeds where others fail. It’s also exactly where we see Samsung working diligently to copy Apple again.
How is a Mac different than a comparable Windows PC? They both have SSD storage, keyboards, trackpad, Retina displays, Intel CPUs inside, and Apple’s iconic wedge design? What’s the difference? It’s obvious. macOS Sierra vs. Windows 10. They’re similar, but sufficiently different.
How is an iPhone different from a comparable Android smartphone? Both have SSD storage, a Retina touchscreen, CPU, GPUs, and various and similar components; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 4G LTE, et al. What’s the difference? It’s obvious, but like the Mac, only partial. iOS 10 vs. Android OS. They’re similar, but sufficiently different.
Then, there’s the ecosystem whereby all of Apple’s devices work well together to communicate, notify, and share files. That’s another major component of overall differentiation.
Then, what differentiates Samsung’s Galaxy S-line of smartphones from Google’s Pixel, or anything running Android OS, including HTC, LG, or the Chinese knockoff brands? Just like iPhone, they all have similar components, but those run Android OS, so there’s little to differentiate a $100 Android smartphone from a $700 Samsung smartphone.
Samsung knows that, too. And Samsung knows, just as Windows PC manufacturers know that Microsoft sits in the driver’s seat and it will always be that way, that Android OS is much the same for every smartphone maker so it has been working diligently to create an alternative. It’s called Tizen and it’s showing up in more and more Samsung products.
Tizen is an operating system based on the Linux kernel and the GNU C Library implementing the Linux API. It works on a wide range of devices, including smartphones, tablets, in-vehicle infotainment devices, smart TVs, PCs, smart cameras, wearable computing (such as smartwatches), Blu-ray players, printers and smart home appliances (such as refrigerators, lighting, washing machines, air conditioners, ovens/microwaves and a robotic vacuum cleaner). Its purpose is to offer a consistent user experience across devices. Tizen is a project within the Linux Foundation and is governed by a Technical Steering Group.
Guess who manufactures many of those devices, and far more of them other device makers? Samsung.
Android OS itself is based on Linux. Samsung has a version of Tizen running on a number of smartphones in the past few years; devices aimed at developing nation customers, as well as other devices where the Korean company has shown additional success.
Success? Samsung’s smartwatch is based on Tizen, not Android Wear, and recently eclipsed Google’s very anemic wearables marketshare. Who’s the big dawg? Apple Watch, of course. Samsung’s Z line of Tizen phones continues to grow in number and marketshare, but is limited to developing nation markets. For now.
This is a big gamble for Samsung, but if the company can make Tizen sufficiently differentiated from Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android OS, potentially a smart move. It’s yet another step Samsung is taking to become more like Apple, but with one difference. While Apple may design the whole widget– hardware and software– Samsung can manufacture all the hardware components, and now has its sights set on taking control of the software, too.
Just like Apple.