The Samsung Ecosystem – Will the galaxies fit?

The New Galaxy of devices

Having a device is one thing.

Having a device that connects seamlessly with other devices is a different story, altogether. 

Having five devices that can talk to each other seamlessly, connect with other services  and still give with a unique user experience; that is the holy grail. 

Brett Jones of the Nielsen Connect Partner Network, refers to that holy grail as an ecosystem. First used by British ecologist Arthur Tansley back in 1935 to describe the relationship between organisms and their environment, an ecosystem has become a sort of buzzword within technology circles. Brett refers to ecosystems as being about dynamic interactions between people, software, data, systems and services and how they connect, share, grow and transform together. 

During Samsung Mobile’s first ever virtual Galaxy unpacked event held on August 5, the gospel of Samsung’s growing ecosystem was repeated throughout the 1hour 33 minute sermon; and for good reason. Five devices were outdoored:

  • Galaxy Note 20/Note 20 Ultra: The flagship smartphone range 
  • Galaxy Buds Live: The flagship wireless ear piece 
  • Galaxy Watch 3: The flagship smartwatch  
  • Galaxy Tab S7/S7+: The flagship tablet 
  • Galaxy Z Fold2: “Cutting-edge smartphone with a 6.2-inch screen which unfolds into a 7.6-inch tablet-like display

Marketing Manager at Samsung Electronics West Africa, Tracy Kyei in an interview indicates that the growing Galaxy ecosystem, “works together seamlessly so you can spend your time focused on what matters most. The Note20 when paired with the Galaxy Buds Live, Galaxy Watch3 and Tab S7 delivers a connected experience across fitness, health, entertainment and even more.”

That is an ideal world, when you think about it. 

Imagine receiving a call while driving and picking up on your watch instead of on your phone. Imagine having a genius idea for a building project while in the bathroom and being able to sketch it on your phone with an enhanced stylus with a latency of just 9 milliseconds! Imagine being able to check in at the airport with your watch while your phone is tucked away in your backpack. That is what the power of an interconnected ecosystem is able to help you do; connect, share, grow and transform. 

With the introduction of five new devices to the Galaxy family in one event, it will appear to the average industry watcher that Samsung is poised to further pursue that interconnected dream. Here are three reasons, i feel, guide Samsung’s renewed vigour. 

Money 

Samsung is making money, let us not kid ourselves. But their biggest rivals, Apple Inc reported an incredible $22.2 billion in profit for the last quarter of 2019 with $91.8 billion in revenue making the fourth quarter of 2019 Apple’s most profitable in history. Samsung, on the other hand, dropped 38 percent in profit. Apple also shipped over 72 million iPhones in the fourth quarter, according to Counterpoint Research, while just about 70 million Galaxy phones were sold by Samsung. Those figures will make any company worried when global dominance of the smartphone market is your ultimate goal. Samsung’s A-series was the main sales driver while S20 series sales didn’t perform as well as anticipated due to the to the COVID-19 shutdowns. The drive for an ecosystem is clearly a strategy by the South Korean multinational conglomerate to get back in the big money zone of the device manufacturers. 

Competition 

There are two major companies Samsung is battling with in the global smartphone category. 

Huawei, the Chinese multinational technology company showed strong sales in China helping it edge Samsung to become the world’s biggest smartphone vendor in the second quarter of 2020.  Apple, the Cupertino-based technology company, has been making a killing since the launch of the iPhone 11 with revenues hitting the $55.96 billion mark in the second quarter of 2020, up by 8% from the previous year. 

The competition is not only about smartphone sales between Samsung and Apple, for example. It is deeper than that. Samsung has for years been the main chip supplier for Apple. The company even provided the flash memory used in the iPod. The relationship turned sour when Samsung decided to make their own phones in 2009. The relationship has been fractured since then.

With the release of the five devices and the bold statements Samsung sought to convey, one gets the sense the ecosystem mantra are not just words but a clear indication of its readiness to win the smartphone contest. Perhaps to prove a point to Apple for all this years of mockery. 

Brand loyalty 

There is something that makes anyone go back for more of a product or service. It can be the service quality, the other services or products from the provider or sometimes just bragging rights. 

With five devices, Samsung is betting on getting you to come back for more. If you have the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra phone for example, there is an incentive to get the Galaxy Watch 3 because then you have a device that will manage your health and a bit of your life as well. Grabbing the Galaxy Buds Live could be the next item to purchase to add to your collection. The list goes on and on. The association with Microsoft further illustrates this point. Imagine having access to all your Microsoft Office products across multiple devices from your phone to your tablet. Imagine accessing high end video game console experience on your mobile phone while on the go. There is an incentive to keep purchasing because the benefits go beyond simply purchasing one device. The added benefits make economic sense due to the added value. With a budding 5G industry coming into effect, Samsung will be looking to benefit greatly with all its devices it has released since 2019. Users of their devices will always feel the brand is a step ahead in the 5G race; seeing how slow other competitors have been in the area.

Note 20 Ultra

According to Investopaedia, “Samsung has three divisions – consumer electronics, device “solutions,” and IT/mobile. Consumer electronics means big boxes – TVs, kitchen appliances, air conditioners and washing machines. Device solutions refers to semiconductors, integrated circuits, LED panels, hard drives and other components. IT and mobile, includes the cell phones and tablets that are traditionally associated with Samsung.” 

Imagine a world where all the devices in these categories are able to speak to one another. That is the ecosystem, i believe, Samsung is gunning for. The question though is how well will the company be able to fit all of their galaxy of devices into that one ecosystem. 

#CITITRENDS S04 EP 23: MAde in Kumasi: Skills Development, Innovation and Knowledge Sharing with Yaw Adu-Gyamfi

Show Promos-8There has been a lot of chatter from the Ashanti Regional capital of Kumasi.

Chatter that centres on technology and growth and innovation.

There has also been a lot of chatter regarding the difficulties that technology entrepreneurs face. There has been a lot of conversation about how some of those problems can be solved.

Yaw Adu-Gyamfi is a co-founder of Centre for Social Innovations (CSI) and a man with extensive experience working directly with communities and young people, focusing on skills development, innovation and entrepreneurship.

He also coauthored a research paper titled: SKILLS DEVELOPMENT, KNOWLEDGE AND INNOVATION AT SUAME MAGAZINE, KUMASI. 

He joined me to share insights from the research paper and much more.

Enjoy.

 

Apple lays claim on the future of computing

 

Photo Credit: theverge.com

Apple CEO Tim Cook Photo Credit: theverge.com

When Tim Cook, CEO of technology company Apple Inc, took to the stage to open the 25th anniversary of its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), technology enthusiasts and industry watchers all over the world were aware that a slew of software enhancements were going to be announced.

They were not disappointed.

The unveiling of iOS 8, the next phase of the iPhone and iPad operating system, and OS 10.10 or OS X Yosemite, the new Mac operating system named after the California park (known for its incredible natural views) drew a series of applause and shouts of approval from more than 6000 developers who had gathered at the Moscone Centre in San Francisco. Drawn from some 69 countries (with the youngest developer aged 13), the section of the over 9 million worldwide developer community who were gathered in the hall, received a note of thanks from Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook.

“From all of Apple, thank you very much.”

The CEO of the 5th placed Fortune 500 company was right to do so. It is the commitment and mental acumen from those individuals that has given the company the gravitas to make make the sort of bold statements it made on Monday. It is this same commitment that the company will be banking on as it takes a bold step into laying a hand on the future of computing. The company’s current operating system for their Mac computers, OS Mavericks, has been installed 40 million times and currently makes for 50% of the installation base since November. This is in comparison to that of rival technology company Microsoft, whose Windows 8 operating system accounts for only 14% of its installation base. The mobile operating system iOS 7 currently accounts for 89% of its installation base which is comparable to 9% of its closest rival Android from Google.

Several of the enhancements announced, however, are mere reflections of already existing softwares and show Apple as a company playing catch up. The several ‘improvements’ to iMessages including renaming group message threads, ability to add and remove recipients, self destructing photos and audio messages, ‘tap to talk’ function and the muting of messages from groups, are currently available in messaging applications such as Whatsapp and Snapchat. The displeasure and sarcasm of Whatsapp CEO Jan Koum were expressed in a tweet, “very flattering to see Apple “borrow” numerous WhatsApp features into iMessage in iOS 8 #innovation”.

The Apple OS X Yosemite, with its translucent panes that take on different colours as they move around, has also been tagged as mimicking the Aero function in Windows Vista, Microsoft’s operating system released for personal computers in 2007. The redesigned version of Spotlight, Apple’s search function, has been criticised for its close resemblance to Google Instant, a search enhancement tool from search company Google Inc, that shows results as you type. The newly announced Apple Drive, a file system for iCloud, the cloud storage and cloud computing service from Apple Inc, comes two years after the launch of Google Drive and 7 years after the launch of Windows Live SkyDrive (now known as One Drive) and file hosting service, Dropbox.

The list goes on.

However, throughout the presentation by Apple’s head of software engineering, Craig Federighi and the brief appearances by other members of the Apple team, it was clear that the company had its eyes set on conquering the future of computing. A move that will make founder Steve Jobs smile (Investors too).

 

Photo Credit: theverge.com

Federighi outlines some of the enhancements to the Mac and iOS experience for developers.
Photo Credit: theverge.com

Courting the Developers 

The gratitude showed by Tim Cook and the subtly humorous video that opened the Keynote address were clear signs of the push the company was making to court the growing worldwide community of programmers and developers responsible for shaping the success of several companies today. The technology company announced, among others, a new programming language for IOS and OS X called Swift. It is intended to make it easier for programmers to develop applications.The iOS 8 Software Development Kit (SDK) with more than 4000 new Application Programming Interfaces (API) – the system which instructs software components on how they should interact with each other – and  Metal, a new graphics technology were also unveiled. As Himanshu Sareen, Founder and CEO of Icreon Tech put it in a post last year, “software developers will be the future masons of the smart city.” He argues that by year 2020, the role of developers and programmers will be most crucial. The claim was based on the projections made by US networking equipment company Cisco Systems Inc, on the growth of the ‘internet of things’ (over 50 billion things will possibly be connected to the internet). CEO of social networking service provider Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, in an address  in April at the company’s F8 Developer Conference, made several commitments to the programming community in what industry watchers consider to be a move to woo them to use his company’s platform. New CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella is also quoted as saying at a recent gathering: “It’s exciting times for us and exciting times for developers in terms of the opportunity to be able to take your creativity, your applications, your systems, and then bring them forth to Windows as it evolves.” It should not be surprising therefore, that Apple will also want to get a bite of the ‘developer’ cherry.

 

Photo Credit: techcrunch.com

A new operating system Photo Credit: techcrunch.com

The Apple Ecosystem

The consumer electronics and computing worlds have craved a software ecosystem that allows for seamless interaction across various devices – phones, tablets and computers. Google has for years pushed its Android ecosystem as the “open approach” which application vendors will favour, as noted by the company’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt in 2012. Microsoft’s Windows operating system which has for years dominated the personal computer market has struggled in recent years to maintain the stronghold it had several decades ago. The latest iteration of the operating system, Windows 8 and 8.1, have failed to revive the declining fortunes of the company, according to statistics website, Statistica. The announcements made on Monday by Apple’s Craig Federighi showed the company’s desire to “engineer (our) platforms, services and devices together… to create a seamless experience for our users across all our products that is unparalleled in the industry”. The introduction of Continuity, a software platform which allows the Mac and iOS devices to communicate seamlessly is an indication of the company’s commitment to ecosystem future. Handoff, a platform developed by the company, allows users to start an activity on one device and pass it to another and also make and receive phone calls directly using the Mac computer as a speakerphone. The unveiling of HomeKit, a platform that allows users to connect devices seamlessly for better management of homes, should win over some skeptics. HomeKit, according to Apple, offers the ability to easily control individual or groups of devices throughout the house, including integration with Siri – the company’s voice assistance service – thereby transforming the way people interact with their homes. This streamlining of the functions between the various Apple devices will likely improve not only the share performance of the company’s stock – currently at $630 a share – but also its chances of winning over the next generation of users.

 

Photo Credit: theverge.com

Developers were there in their numbers Photo Credit: theverge.com

Banking on your health

Though the announcement of the iWatch – Apple’s rumoured and soon-to-be-announced entrant into the wearable technology arena – was not made, the introduction of the Health app and HealthKit APIs will see various fitness applications communicating with each other to manage people’s health. John Noseworthy, M.D., Mayo Clinic President and CEO noted: “We believe Apple’s HealthKit will revolutionise how the health industry interacts with people.” The debate can be made about several fitness and activity trackers available on the market, including those on Samsung’s Gear 2 (which also serves as a watch), Moves (purchased by Facebook for an undisclosed fee in April) and Endomondo. Despite the drive for investment into fitness tracking devices and software by so many other companies, Apple’s Health application and HealthKit offer the added advantage of medical professionals being able to track, in real time, the performance of their patients, for example. The prospects of this are limitless. The launch of hardware that supports this software such as the iWatch, will go a long way to boost investor confidence and drive up sales.

The Cupertino based company has made its intentions clear to the world as it kicks off its conference in San Francisco. It is declaring a stand in the future of the internet of things. The interest of the technology industry, consumers and investors is on high alert. The ball now lies in the court of companies such as Google, who are planning their I/O event slated for June 25, to make their move.