On the eve of the launch of Samsung's next generation flagship smartphone -- the Samsung Galaxy S IV -- Apple's SVP of worldwide product marketing, Phil Schiller, did some trash-talking in a Wednesday interview with the Wall Street Journal, emoting on the inferiority of the Android experience. Interestingly, though, everything that Schiller said is known to Samsung, and the firm is working on correcting its shortcomings.
Samsung has taken not just the global smartphone crown away from rivals, but the overall cell phone crown. Of course, by most measurements, Apple still has an advantage in the U.S. Android, however, including other OEMs than Samsung, still holds sway in the U.S. market.
First, Schiller claimed that Apple's research showed that four times as many iPhone users switched from an Android phone vice versa in Q4 2012. Apple's claim comes as IDC's latest report showed that Apple's iPhone represented 19 percent of global smartphone shipments in 2012, compared with about 30 percent for Samsung alone and about 70 percent for all Android phones. Earlier this week, IDC said that it expects Android tablets to eclipse Apple's iPad this year in terms of shipments.
However, as noted above, comScore's latest report shows that Apple still surpasses Samsung in U.S. smartphone subscribers.
Next, Schiller's trash-talk escalated, as he said that Android users are often running old operating systems (ouch) and that the fragmentation in the Android world was "plain and simple" (true, and ouch again). These statements fall into the somewhat hyperbolic category.
He also said -- and this is a key point -- that Android devices suffer somewhat because different portions of the user experience come from different companies, whereas Apple is responsible for all its mobile hardware and as well as its iOS operating system, and backend infrastructure such as iCloud and iTunes.
When you take an Android device out of the box, you have to sign up to nine accounts with different vendors to get the experience iOS comes with. They don't work seamlessly together.
That is the biggest advantage that Apple has over Android and Samsung, too. It is, however, something that Samsung is keenly aware of, and is working to fix. In mid-December of 2012, Samsung executive Young Sohn said the following:
I think we [Samsung] have probably the largest platform in the world between the devices and displays and televisions we sell. We actually provide more devices that are interacting with consumers than anyone in the world.
Look at your phone [pointing to a Samsung Galaxy Nexus]. It’s a better phone, in my view. It’s a better display. It’s faster. But eventually the connected ecosystem is really critical.
But if you think about our experiences, it’s device-centric. It’s experienced by itself. It’s not experienced in a connected way. So we think we can provide a lot more things than what we are doing today with an open ecosystem with our partners.
Sohn added that at work, he uses Samsung devices, but at home, he uses Apple products. He concluded by saying that Apple's ecosystem is "sticky."
Sohn -- and Samsung -- recognizes how the Apple ecosystem is an advantage. To be honest, there isn't an Android user that doesn't notice the difference, as well. Yet, they are still willing to use it.
In addition, Samsung is taking steps to change that. Its Kies software verges on iTunes. Its Music Hub will expand to encompass future devices, and is a sort of iCloud.
Apple is correct, that Android is fragmented. Samsung, though, controls 40 percent of the Android market, and is working to change that. Samsung, not Android, is Apple's biggest rival, and something even Google fears.