Apple launches site to tout iPhone as Samsung unleashes Galaxy S4

Just after rival Samsung Electronics announced its flagship Galaxy S4, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) launched a new website to highlight what it considers to be the superior aspects of the iPhone 5 and its iOS platform.

"There's the iPhone. And then there's everything else," proclaims Apple's new page.

The website, coupled with comments Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller made ahead of the S4's launch disparaging the device and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform, signal that Apple is becoming more aggressive than before in defending its products and market position, even when it does not have a new product to announce. 

The Apple website, titled, "There's iPhone. And then there's everything else," touts the iPhone's Retina display, battery life, J.D. Power consumer satisfaction awards the device has received over the years and notes that the three most popular cameras on the photo sharing site Flickr are the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 and iPhone 5. In a clear shot at Android, the site notes that Apple reviews all the apps submitted to the App Store to guard against malware. "Other mobile platforms have a myriad of fragmented store options, resulting in availability issues, developer frustration, and security risks," the site notes.

Samsung's battle with Apple, which has reached new heights during the past year as the two have tussled in the courts and in the marketplace, is the dominant contest in the smartphone market. In terms of unit shipment volumes, Samsung is the market leader in smartphones, according to research firms (Samsung no longer details its quarterly mobile phone or smartphone shipments).

Strategy Analytics pegged Samsung's smartphone shipments in the fourth quarter of 2012 at 63 million and its market share at 29 percent, while IDC estimated 63.7 million smartphone shipments and a 29 percent global smartphone market share. Gartner reported Samsung sold 64.5 million smartphones during the fourth quarter, up 85.3 percent over the final three months of 2011.

In the fourth quarter of 2012, Strategy Analytics gave Apple 22 percent global smartphone market share and IDC gave Apple 21.8 percent. Analysts said in February that Apple actually claimed the top smartphone spot in the U.S. market in the fourth quarter, beating out Samsung. Much of Apple's success was driven by demand for Apple's iPhone 5, which was released late in the third quarter of 2012.

Some analysts and investors have urged Apple to either release a low-end version of the iPhone to better compete in emerging markets or to speed up the pace of its smartphone rollouts.  "It would be an overstatement to say Apple is far behind," Forrest analyst Charles Golvin told Reuters. "If anything, what Apple needs to respond to is the cadence of their own releases, probably a completely new design every two years and a sort of speed bump every year is not an adequate cadence for Apple to remain at the forefront of smartphone innovation today."

Yet Apple seems comfortable with its position. Apple CEO Tim Cook said at an investor conference in February that he thinks the global smartphone market will continue to grow significantly over the next few years and that Apple's iPhone business will benefit from that. However, Cook did not directly address whether Apple will introduce a cheaper iPhone for emerging markets, but he said the company will continue to make great products and that "the only thing we'll never do is make a crappy product."

"Frankly speaking, I see a wide-open field," he said. Cook noted that the market reached 700 million units last year (the estimate of research firm Strategy Analytics) and he said the market is expected to double during the next several years. "I see a market that is incredible to be in," he said. "Apple has enormous momentum. We have built an ecosystem that is the best at customer experience on the planet."

Apple has never really prized gaining market share more than it has selling products with high margins and profits. As Daring Fireball notes, according to Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley, Apple captured 69 percent of the handset industry's profits in 2012 and Samsung took 34 percent (the figures add up to 103 percent because many handset makers posted operating losses in 2012). 

For more:
- see this Apple site
- see this 9to5Mac article
- see this The Verge article
- see this Monday Note post
- see this Daring Fireball post
- see this Reuters article

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