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Summary:

Apple may have defeated Samsung in its recent patent case, but that doesn’t mean Samsung doesn’t have some good ideas of its own. Here are 5 ways Apple could benefit from borrowing some new ideas.

apple-samsung

Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but that saying pretty much goes out the window when patents are involved. In fact, you might even say that, when it comes to smartphones, imitation is the quickest way to get sued. For evidence of this, look no further than the mobile world’s monoliths, Apple and Samsung; the two have been in patent litigation for years.

Now, there’s no question that Samsung has taken a bite out of Apple’s ideas in the past. But in light of Apple’s recent win in its patent case against Samsung, I started to think about it from the other way around.

There’s no doubt that Apple has been a tremendous leader in the mobile space, with ideas and innovations that have pushed the industry forward and changed cell phones immeasurably. But as the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer, Samsung is doing a lot of things right too. In fact, Apple could stand to take a lesson or two, or even five, from Samsung’s playbook. Here are some good places to start.

  1. More phone sizes
    Since the first iPhone was released in 2007, Apple has only made one major change to the general size of the phone, increasing the display from 3.5 to 4 inches for last year’s iPhone 5. But it’s clear that smartphones aren’t a one-size-fits-all market, and no company demonstrates this better than Samsung.
    iTunes radio Apple WWDC official image iPhone
    The 5.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Note kicked off the phablet phenomenon, proving there’s a market for (much) bigger phones. But Samsung makes plenty of other sizes too, trying its hand on displays even smaller than the original iPhone’s 3.5 inches (on lots of older models), up to a whopping 6.3 inches on the Samsung Galaxy Mega. Sure, the iPhone 5 is a great fit for many hands, but a bigger screen gets you more of the movie you’re watching, more of the game you’re playing, and more of the web you’re browsing. A lot of people think bigger is better. Earlier this year, it was estimated that 150 million phablets would be sold in 2013 alone, accounting for 18 percent of all smartphones sales. I’m not saying that we need an iPhablet, but if Apple offered a bigger iPhone, I bet it would become more popular than the 4-inch version.
  2. Load up on the special features
    Apple’s iOS is chock-full of essential, refined features, and so is Google’s Android. But Samsung manages to push things one step further, loading up its flagship phones with so many extra features you’ll probably never get a chance to even use them all before it’s time to upgrade.But you know what?Discovering a great new feature that improves your experience a year after you’ve had your phone is a pretty cool thing.Take the ability to customize in-call and music audio on the Samsung Galaxy S 3 and Galaxy S 4. Both of these phones feature excellent audio quality of the box, but Samsung’s built-in customization setting really kicks things up a notch, tuning audio to suit your hearing. Once you’ve used it, you start to wonder why it isn’t a standard feature on every phone. And that’s just one of the features Samsung has added on top of Android. Apple can use a dash of Samsung’s willingness to just throw some features in there to see if they stick, even if some of them never get used.
  3. How about some removable parts, like a battery and microSD card slot?
    The iPhone has always featured a completely sealed-in battery, and if you want more storage you need to spend an additional $100 to step up to the next level. Now, a removable battery and a microSD card slot certainly aren’t exclusive to Samsung, but as more and more Android phones are leaving both behind (like the Moto X and the LG G2), Samsung’s flagship phones are always sure to include both — and it adds a lot of value to the user. A removable battery means you can always care a spare, and a microSD card slot allows you to easily increase your storage capacity up to an additional 64GB — far less than it would cost to buy a model with more internal storage.I get what Apple is doing — the industrial, unibody design of the iPhone 5 is thin, lightweight and attractive. But at 0.31-inch thick and 4.59 ounces, so is the Galaxy S 4. You lose the unibody design, but that’s barely a step up in terms of thickness and heft from the 0.30-inch thick, 3.95-ounce iPhone 5 — and you’re getting a full extra inch of display.
  4. More releases per yearGalaxy S 4 White
    In general, Apple releases a new iPhone once every 12 months. That allows for a fairly significant upgrade each time, but mobile technology is moving faster than ever. LTE only made its way to the iPhone last September, well over a year after Samsung released the Droid Charge, its first LTE smartphone for Verizon Wireless. And in addition to its big flagship phones, Samsung releases a ton of devices designed to suit a variety of tastes and budgets. Apple may finally be catching onto this if rumors of the budget-friendly iPhone 5C prove to be true, but this remains to be seen.
  5. Be a little more willing to borrow from others
    OK, this is sort of what got Samsung into trouble in the first place, but it’s also what helped it rise to such a stratospheric level of smartphone dominance. Sure, Samsung is plenty capable of its own innovation, as we’ve seen from countless smartphones and inspired bits of TouchWiz coding. But it also isn’t afraid to borrow a good idea when it sees one. Apple, on the other hand, took over three years before deciding to borrow an Android-style pull-down notifications bar. And let’s not forget the hubristic experiment that is Apple Maps. Sometimes you really just need to be willing to go with the pack and borrow a good idea when you see one. If Apple does this, perhaps we’ll get an IR blaster, NFC support, and inductive charging on a new iPhone model in the future.

    With a new iPhone release right around the corner, it’ll be interesting to see if Apple decides to incorporate any new innovations from its peers. Though Apple may not care to it admit it, there are plenty of great ideas out there just begging to borrowed.

  1. With the exception of #5, the rest are exactly why Apple is better than Samsung.

    #1 Talk about confusing the users and devaluing your product.
    #2 There is an App for that. Where Apple does not have something, others are creating the functionality. granted Apple should let developers have a little more control to integrate better at the OS level, but then you WILL see virus come to iOS as well.
    #3 Why? the SD card will introduce side loading and introduce viruses, the removable battery …maybe..but not a big deal.
    #4 Again, talk about devaluing your product. Who wants to spent upwards of $600 only to have a new phone out tomorrow with one additional feature you would really like to have. An iPhone is pretty much good for 2 years or at a minimum 1 year if you want to be bleeding edge.

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    1. Fanboy!

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    2. Completely agree with this comment.

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    3. Came here to say this. Also, for #5, there is a reason why Apple buys patents (obviously not as many as Google, but again, quality over quantity): they snatch up good ideas when they do exist and poke holes through “good ideas” that others sponge up.

      The bottom line is that Apple has built a brand out of simplicity and necessity while others opt for customizability and feature overload. I’m not here to say which is better, I’m just saying that the Apple brand has a loyal following so why #$*% with the recipe for success?

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    4. Um, why does this count as ‘fanboy’?

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    5. It’s funny when anyone presents logic and a view which is pro-Apple, they are immediately branded as a fanboy by people who hate Apple OR who (like in Lame’s case) happy to anonymous for the sake of trolling.

      Give it up Lame.
      It’s old. It’s boring.

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    6. TwinkESaurusWRX Wednesday, August 14, 2013

      I agree with your comment. Having recently switched from being stuck with a samsung phone that never got updated in a reasonable amount of time, doing anything suggested in this post would trash everything Apple spent the last 6 years building.

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  2. I disagree about the sizes. One reason why the iPhone has so many apps is it is easy to develop for, in that there are only two screen resolutions (retina and pre-retina). Makes life simpler for the developer, rather than Android’s endless stream of sizes.

    Most of your points don’t actually make sense for Apple’s strategy, so yeah. This article is clearly from the POV of an Android enthusiast.

    The only one I agree with is including microSD storage and/or a microUSB 3.0 port instead of lightning. Those hardware features would only be beneficial for consumers.

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    1. Adding microSD storage isn’t going to happen. Just as Apple pushed the market to a graphic UI rather than a text-based UI, 3.5″ floppies instead of 5.25″ floppies, CDs instead of floppies, USB instead of serial ports, standard commands rather than different commands for every application, etc., Apple is pushing the market toward wireless sharing of data. There’s no need for a slot for a card if you can have instantaneous storage in the cloud.

      Likewise, you’re not going to find microUSB replacing Lightning. You can do far more with a Lightning adapter than a microUSB. Having just the one port saves space, money, and gives the iPhone abilities other phones don’t have. There are inexpensive adapters that will allow you to use a microUSB cable to charge a lightning-equiped phone or iPad.

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      1. Having just the one port [...] gives the iPhone abilities other phones don’t have.

        Can you give me an example of this? Show me one thing that I can do with the lightning port that I can’t do with an Android phone.

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        1. The ability to force you to buy all new accessories when you upgrade your phone. ;-)

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        2. Run a hardware connection to a dj controller that gives you control over audio and/or video mixing and keeps the tablet or phone charged during your set.

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      2. I agree cloud storage will eventually replace the need for MicroSD (except perhaps for movies on airplane trips), but we’re in a world were wireless data costs money for most people. My MicroSD card pays for itself pretty quickly just with reduced music downloads. I even gave up my Verizon unlimited data plan to save money by using MicroSD.

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  3. I agree with above comments. This article is what Android does, and they are almost the only reasons Android is still around (besides people hating Apple). Not only does Apple make quality products, but they care about their customers. To slight the customers and have a new phone every other month is not a good business plan for them. It’s like rushing out a product with testing properly and trying to make a quick buck. Apples brand is for quality products that last a long time (see resale value of iPhone 3GS still, 5 years later, compared to Android phone of last year). The person who wrote this does not “know” Apple and their beliefs. Apple is ground breaking and their answer for SD card slot is the cloud and that is the future, not just local storage. You also have to remember, more removable whatever’s (card slot, battery, ect.) allows the user to mess more things up and potentially more problems, viruses. Did he forget that apple knows what they are doing financially? What give people the option to have an SD card full of media they got off their friend when they sell that media? Apple makes billions each year on downloadable content they did not create, and you would be lying if you said you would not want YOUR company to make money like that!

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  4. 1. More sizes — they will bend, just like they did with the iPad mini. They will have a 5 inch and a 6 inch model. Remind me again when apple cared about screwing over developers?
    2. Sorta irrelevant — I agree with KSed, but for there to be an App for that there needs to be a default for that — if you’re stuck with using Apple’s crappy stock apps as your defaults, any third party better option feels glued on.
    3. Because it ads flexibility — I’m sorry KSed, I don’t have any viruses on my phone, side loading is not a bad thing — that’s a dumb excuse to force people to upgrade for more storage, and when the battery eventually craps out, and inductive charging is awesome.
    4. I agree — 1 phone a year is enough, but they can spin up different lines and have staggered release cycles. — it’s better to cannibalize your own product as apposed to have someone else eat at your market share.
    But all in all if an iPhone was more like and Android phone, because this is where this is going, then – it would be an android phone with an OS from 2007….hmm, no widgets, same tile of icons. At least they’re sticking to their guns and keeping Jobs memory alive with a 2007 design aesthetic. And please don’t tell me the rainbow UI and a war on skemorphism is some modern Ive-ian stroke of genius — it’s same 2007 UI with a new paint job.

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  5. Steffen Jobbs Tuesday, August 13, 2013

    I think it all comes down to how Apple wants to run its company. Apple has a choice to do anything it wants to but maybe they don’t find it necessary to do the things you think they should. Fact: Apple is the wealthiest company by market cap. Fact: Apple has the largest cash reserve of all companies. Apple has the power and wealth to do things most companies can only dream of doing.

    You may feel that Apple isn’t run as well as you think it should be. I also feel the same way, but I’m sure that Apple knows what it is doing to maximize profits. I feel that Apple certainly must be capable of doing research on its own to find out what works best. I don’t run the company and although I think I could improve on how well the company works, I believe that’s just wishful thinking on my part. It’s not easy for any company to get where Apple is so they must be doing more right things than wrong things. I don’t want Apple to become Samsung. I want Apple to put out only a few products and focus on those few products. That’s how Steve Jobs would have done it because he liked lean product lines. I personally don’t think there needs to be multiple iPhone display sizes and a 4″ display is fine for me.

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    1. Exactly. For much of it’s history Apple has done rather well for itself doing things the way it does them (although there was a period that wasn’t true).

      They don’t want to generate the most sales, they want to generate the most profits.

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  6. LOL. Apple customers like to be dominated. They don’t want to research choices. They don’t want to make choices. They don’t want to have choices. They want to have decisions made for them and forced upon them.

    Your suggestions would totally alienate their customer base, as some of the responses below indicate.

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    1. I’m not sure if Apple customers like to be dominated, but I’m sure a good number of us look around and then choose what we believe is best for us — in much the same way that customers of other brands of products look around and then choose what works for them.

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      1. How do you explain the significant number of sales of the prior version, which didn’t have 4G? Maybe if it had a MicroSD slot you could get by without 4G, but without either I just don’t see how that phone possible adequately served the needs of so many buyers.

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        1. Easy, because 4G wasn’t available everywhere. The cost of adding a “feature” that impacts a minority of users makes perfect sense. But you want Apple to add every feature possible just to appease a couple of users.

          Glad you don’t own your own business.

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          1. First, I do own my own business.

            Second, 4G was available in most major markets, so your understanding of facts that you should know is also poor.

            Third, I barely bought my Droid 2 Global when I did because 4G was about to be released in something like 3 months. I realized that 4G would be available during the life of the phone–something that is rather obvious. Stating that 4G wasn’t available everywhere at the time of that iPhone launch is rather irrelevant due to the life of smartphones.

            Fourth, you’re obviously an iPhone buyer because you don’t understand facts or how do to research. Just right in Apple’s wheelhouse for a potential customer.

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    2. Nonsense. I moved recently from an Android phone and tablet to iOS products. Do you really think I didn’t spend some time checking out both lines and making an informed purchase on what would work best for me?

      Really??

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  7. Nicholas Paredes Tuesday, August 13, 2013

    Apple could pretty easily create a larger sized iPhone without changing proportions within apps, but do so in the browser. Frankly, as a B2B app designer, you really have to see the number of comments and internal discussions regarding “fat fingers.” Go look at a contractors hands! I would like to see a 13’ iPad that could use Mac keyboards (Happy Hacking Keyboard) with a dock!

    Aside from a more rapid release cycle, I agree with a previous poster, this is exactly the difference between Apple and everybody else. Apple is still the most profitable device maker and has a pipeline. iOS still generates the most revenue and more critically, by far the highest usage. Apple is in a dip suffering from the loss of Steve. Big deal.

    By next year, Apple will have a new line of products and people will use them. Within two to three years, maps services will be sorted out. Why they don’t just buy Nokia/Navteq to provide in car mapping is beyond me. Watch the car, watch the wrist, and watch work transform on the iPad. Those are the profiles that matter.

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  8. No, no no no and maybe. Man, you have absolutely no grasp of what makes Apple a success.

    lets not turn Apple into a cheap plastic copy-cat fugly app nerd-herd phone seller… thats why we have Android.

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  9. I disagree with everything mentioned in the article. This kind of approach just leads to a bloated product line with confusing choices, and little thought to each product.

    The reason Apple and its products are popular is because they take the time to craft a product, not throw out slop trying to capture every latest fad.

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  10. I find it pretty hilarious that today’s “Apple” junkies are the same generation of individuals who don’t like being told what they need to do by society yet they “bow down” to whatever Apple decides is best for them.

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