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Apple and Samsung: Two tech giants travelling in opposite directions

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Apple and Samsung: Two tech giants travelling in opposite directions

It’s been a week of contrasts for two of tech’s biggest players.

Last Wednesday Apple not only posted record sales of iPhones, smashing the 74 million mark in the three months from October to December.

It also managed to make a net profit of £12 billion, the biggest quarterly profit in global corporate history.

Meanwhile, its big name rival Samsung revealed that earnings from its smartphones and mobile division were down by 62% year on year.

While the Korean company did not say how many phones and tablets it had sold, it did confirm that its numbers were down compared to 2013.

This is all such a far cry from two years ago, when Samsung was in the ascendency and Apple’s ability to innovate was being called into question.

iphone 6 review landscape

The Korean giant was sticking it to Apple on the shop floor and in the courtroom, turning itself into the world’s biggest mobile-maker and churning out new devices at an unerring rate.

But complacency, not to mention defeat in US courts and punishing fines over patent infringements, has left Samsung reeling.

In emerging markets, local suppliers are killing Samsung with their cheaper devices and similar services.

At the top end, Apple’s superior design quality and its decision to finally boost the size of its iPhones, coupled with Samsung’s distinctly average releases in the last 12 months, have put the squeeze on too.

Samsung is now in real danger of losing its place as the world’s premier phone manufacturer.

Its experiment with its own Tizen operating system seems doomed, meaning its reliance on Google’s Android is unlikely to end any time soon.

Samsung vs Apple in armour

Meanwhile, it’s providing Apple with processors that will make the next generation of iPhones tick, bolstering a rival in the process.

Apple is understandably giddy about its success.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus show that consumers were desperate for larger Apple handsets, to the point where they seem to be choosing them over ailing iPads.

The struggles of Apple’s tablet are well documented, but with consumers opting for iPhones instead, Apple won’t be too disheartened. Its margins on phones are bigger than on tablets after all.

The challenge for Apple now is to match those results or at least stay the course.

ipad air 2 large

That could prove impossible seeing as the 2015 iPhone update is expected to be iterative, although the Apple Watch is likely to give it extra cachet over the coming months.

But having seen Samsung come up on the rails before, Apple will be acutely aware of the need to keep innovating.

This is a company that was dismissed in some quarters after Steve Jobs’ death. Now it’s bigger than ever before.

For Samsung, there’s everything to play for.

But if it has another awful year, expect pens to be sharpened and more comparisons to be made with the struggles of the likes of HTC in recent years.

The days of it trying to be all things to all people are surely numbered.

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