The Apple Beat: Apple's post Samsung future Sharpens
Saturday, November 26, 2011 at 10:56AM
Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla in Adverts, Analysis, Apple, Apple Beat, Buyers Guide, Events and Launches, HDTV, Lifestyle, Mobile, Opinion, Public service, Sharp, Smasung, iPad apps, iphone, opinion

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

There have been signs, some subtle and some obvious, that Apple is ready to move away from Samsung as a major supplier of components, displays, memory and storage. Apple has tapped other manufacturers like Sharp, TMSC (for the A5 processor successor) and others to secure components for its product line going forward.

The writing is on the wall. The legal battle between Apple and Samsung is vast and encompasses various countries and focuses on a number of technologies affecting smartphones, computers and most importantly, tablets.

Samsung is still shackled from selling it Galaxy Tab in certain markets which can't be easy for them heading into the holiday buying season. They aren't just competing with the iPad after all but with a dozen other Android tablets.

Recent advertisements  by Samsung (like the Galaxy S II one above) poking fun at Apple and Apple's customers is a sure sign that relationships between the two companies is far from friendly.

Samsung wouldn't go on this kind of offensive if they had a continuing future as partners. Why would you bite the hand that feeds you?  And to think that just last year, Apple was Samsung's second-largest customer, accounting for $5.7 billion of sales tied mainly to semiconductors.

One can argue that with the above advert, Samsung is simply employing the age old Apple tact of attacking more dominant companies (Remember "I'm a PC?" or the "Lemmings" ads) but Samsung isn't just pointing out what it sees as deficiencies of the iPhone 4S, it is also generalizing and directly making fun of the Apple fanboy and fangirl stereotypes. The ad clearly makes the people waiting in line look  like a trendy mob of uninformed  and  vapid hipster poseurs.

Is that the way to engage potential customers or future switchers? Maybe it is some sort of advanced reverse psychology in advertising tactic; insult your competitor's user so they switch over to your product. Not sure how effective that will be. 

Focusing on Sharp

Murmurings around the web and the industry is that Apple is looking to team up with Sharp for displays to go on the next generation iPad as well as on the Mac notebooks and monitors. Apple is big enough a company to have long list of possible partners Sharp, Panasonic, Toshiba, Sony and even LG are all possible partners as are the dozens of smaller OEM's in Asia.

The Sharp connection seems to be a viable partner as it already supplies parts for Apple. Sharp is also desirable because it has no product overlap with Apple in key growth areas such as smartphones and tablets at least not in Apple's largest markets.

A report on The Wall Street Journal stated recently "that Sharp will produce the panels at its Kameyama No. 2 plant in central Japan. According to one person familiar with the matter, Apple has invested an unspecified amount in Sharp's factories."

That's the power of the Apple dollar. Not only can it partner with multiple suppliers but it can easily fund a joint venture or even put together  a whole new operation to build components on spec. Reading the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, we learned that Apple sent Jonathan Ive to China to ensure that the manufacturing process and standards for their unibody aluminum cases was perfect. Ive spent months working out the details for them to get it right.

Image from theappleclan.com

That TV thing

Another part of that Isaacson bio on Jobs that has received a lot of buzz is that the next big thing for Apple is a TV. A partnership with Sharp, who makes some stunning HDTVs leads me to believe that this is a given. An area of collaboration that can bring the strength of both companies together. 

This will make HDTV manufacturers, specially those with app-driven HDTVs incredibly nervous. Apple already has the SmartTV ecosystem in iOS. They have the developers, they have the content partnerships and they sure have the iCloud to tie everything together. Add some Siri into the mix and you have a possible recipe for the future of TVs- A voice controlled, app-driven and  cloud-integrated device.

Even if Apple doesn't use Siri for its TV, it can take a page from Sony's Tablet P and  leverage the iPad and the universal remote control to rule them all. 

It will be interesting to see how this plays out and whether Apple will respond to Samsung's advertisements or if they will take the high road and let them slide.

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Gadjo C. Sevilla is a long time Mac user and technician and has been covering Apple's business and products for over 15 years. The Apple Beat is a regular opinion column focusing on the latest Apple news and analysis.

Article originally appeared on Reviews, News and Opinion with a Canadian Perspective (http://www.canadianreviewer.com/).
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