Though Wall Street has lost faith in the company’s future growth prospects over the past six months, Apple (AAPL) has launched a number of game-changers over the past decade. The iPhone turned the smartphone industry on its head, the iPad opened up a whole new category of consumer devices, and iOS itself forced a complete overhaul of the mobile computing experience. According to Forbes, however, Apple has stepped aside and top rival Samsung (005930) is now in the process of changing the game — but in a completely different way.
Samsung managed to create Apple-like hype ahead of its recent Galaxy S4 unveiling, but Forbes contributor Adam Hartung doesn’t believe Samsung’s wildly popular smartphones are game-changers. The company’s tablets have been far less successful than its smartphones, so they haven’t changed the game either. None of Samsung’s products and services are driving this new shift in the market, Hartung suggests — instead, it’s Samsung’s massive marketing and advertising budget that has “changed the game on Apple.”
“Samsung did not change the game with technology or product,” Hartung wrote. “It has used the same Android starting point as most competitors for phones and tablets. Its products are comparable to Apple’s – but not dramatically superior. And while they are cheaper, in most instances that has not been the reason people bought Galaxies, Notes, Tabs and S phones. Instead, Samsung changed the game by focusing on distribution and advertising!”
While companies like Apple and Microsoft (MSFT) have historically been associated with massive marketing spends, recent estimates suggest Samsung spent four times more than Apple on advertising in 2012, and more than twice as much as Microsoft. The result has been a dramatic shift in the way consumers view Samsung products, and the South Korean company is now the top smartphone vendor in the world.
“Once America’s untouchable brand, the Apple brand has faltered,” Hartung wrote. “People now question Apple’s sustainability. Some now recognize Apple is vulnerable, and think its best times are behind it. And it’s all because Samsung ignored the industry lock-in to constantly focusing on product, and instead changed the game on Apple.”
Samsung’s next-generation Galaxy S4 launches later this month, and the company has already begun airing the first round of commercials to promote its new flagship smartphone.