Galaxy S4: Samsung's battle with Apple will be won or lost on software, not hardware

Galaxy S4: Samsung's battle with Apple will be won or lost on software, not hardware

Summary: Samsung's next flagship smartphone will soon be announced - and whatever the features, the fight between Apple, Samsung and BlackBerry for the enterprise has already begun.

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While the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4 evolution, not revolution is likely: leaks and rumours suggest it will come with a screen just under five inches, an eight-core processor and 2GB of RAM.

It'll also have an improved screen and camera in all likelihood, and arrive with new gesture-based features or bespoke services, as that's how manufacturers tend to differentiate between their phones nowadays.

But the enterprise battle is less focused on particular features and more on the broader strategy, and that's where things get interesting.

Traditionally, businesses would look to roll out BlackBerry devices. In more recent years, they've also been gradually convinced to introduce iOS and Android-based handsets and tablets for employees.

This shift hasn't so much been as a result of companies quickly adopting new technologies; in many cases it has instead come about as the result of employees bringing their own handsets into the office, which then need some form of management if they are going to be given access to sensitive business information.

This change has created dual routes to enterprise success for hardware manufacturers: appeal to the business with pricing and ease of integration or appeal to the individual, and then the company will have little choice but to support the devices.

On the second point, Samsung has done an incredible job of creating consumer success with its Galaxy range of devices. From launch the Galaxy S2 was popular, and the S3 even more so.

In January 2013, Samsung said sales of its Galaxy S series devices had exceeded 100m units, with the original Galaxy notching up 24 million sales, and the S2 and S3 both surpassing 40 million units each.

The only other handset posing any real challenge for the Galaxy S2 and S3 has been the iPhone. And regardless of the route the handset takes to make it into business hands, the S4 will be Samsung's most concerted enterprise push to-date, especially as Samsung has been focusing on management and security, both hot topics for business.

According to a recent Strategy Analytics market share report, more than 700 million smartphones were sold in 2012. Of those 700 million units, nearly 69 percent ran Android and just over 19 percent ran iOS. But the enterprise is different - here the iPhone is the handset of choice still, so Samsung needs to convince that its smartphones are fit for work, as well as pleasure.

A Knox at the door

At Mobile World Congress 2013, the South Korean handset manufacturer revealed the scale of its enterprise ambitions with the introduction of its Knox device management system, a result of its own development work and partnerships with companies such as Centrify.

While Apple's iPhone might be the company to beat in terms of numbers, BlackBerry's impressive device and service management features and systems are still hugely attractive to enterprise customers.

To address BlackBerry's stronghold in business, Samsung's Knox system is designed to help admins make data leakage, viruses and malware attacks a thing of the past for Samsung devices on the Android platform. BlackBerry is not the force it once was, but enterprises will still want Samsung to show that it can offer a similar level of security with its handsets.

As such, Knox also incorporates an enhanced-security version of Android developed by the National Security Agency, and supports integrity management services on a hardware and Android OS level. It will also play nicely with existing MDM, VPN and directory services, Samsung told ZDNet.

One of the smart decisions in the introduction of Knox was to give it the ability to separate personal and business data, reassuring both parties that the user will only get access to what they should, and that there won't be any problems with the IT department removing personal content such as photos from the phone. There's no better way to square up to a rival than by taking on its core strengths, and for BlackBerry, that's Balance and BES.

However, while Android and iOS clearly have had some success making it into businesses, convincing the more security-conscious industries such as banking or government to adopt the platforms has been more of a challenge. Knox should go some way to allaying these concerns on Android, at least.

We already know that the S4 will arrive with support for Knox out of the box, and while the latest range-topping smartphone is yet to be officially revealed, it will be no surprise to see it come out of the gate with its sights set firmly on BlackBerry - and then on Apple.

Whatever transpires at the Galaxy S4 launch on Thursday, the stage for this enterprise battle has already been set.

Topics: Smartphones, Mobility, Networking, BlackBerry

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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45 comments
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  • Cool article and perspective

    This was a refreshing article. I like that it addresses the road ahead and what handset makers are trything to achieve. I'm a consumer. I only care that my phone is "like wicked awesome". :) But Samsung, BB and Apple are companies and have business customers too (or want them).

    From a hipster stand-point, I don't ever want to see my boss wielding a Galaxy device for work purposes though :)
    Gussy2000
    • LOL

      An iPhone hasn't been wicked or awesome for a few years now. Just pretentious.
      NotMSUser
      • There is a point where a product goes beyond "cool".

        That's the point where it becomes the standard by which others try to match. At one point this standard was Research in Motion, with its Blackberry devices. In many ways they still retain that standard through its almost uncompromised security. However, the Blackberry's usability was questionable at best; reviews at the time frequently mentioning how you had to dig through many menu layers to reach a given function. With the release of the iPhone, smartphone use became more about functionality and ease of use rather than hard-core security while still offering enough security that no non-jailbroken iphone has truly been hit with intentional malware. The iPhone, while starting off as "Cool" quickly went far beyond it into Standards level when Google released Android and so many OEMs tried to emulate Apple's success.

        It has taken Android just over three years to truly exceed the iPhone's monthly and annual sales rates and taken Samsung roughly two more years to really become the dominant Android player with its Galaxy S series (while still producing other lines reviewers tend to call "junk"). Motorola's lead quickly fell even though they tried the hardest to retain what Google originally envisioned--to the point that Google itself purchased Motorola Mobility in an effort to ensure at least one OEM ran a true Google version of Android. For now, Samsung has become "Cool" but hasn't yet become the new "Standard".
        Vulpinemac
        • Nice that somebody flags my comment...

          yet doesn't bother to refute it in any way. That's a sign of a fanboy who can't otherwise argue the point.
          Vulpinemac
          • I didn't flag it

            But if it helps, I hope all the irritating fanboys get sucked into some kind of black hole. When was the last time is was able to hear about a new device from either company without someone prattling on about the other?

            It leaves me exhausted with both of them. I think it's one of the factors that interests me with Sony and Nokia lately... They aren't samsung or apple!
            MarknWill
  • If you are right, that is BAD news for apple

    apple is widely regarded as the very worst of the major players when it comes to software. Google and Microsoft are both far better at the software side of things.

    This is very bad news for apple.
    toddbottom3
    • Apple is doomed

      Toddy told you so. It must be true.

      Funny, that you say this Toddy. Apple is well known and recognised as software-focused company. But, you know best.

      I don't think the copycat Samsung presents any serious threat to either BlackBerry or Apple, or even Microsoft. In order to succeed in these environments, you need to be very consistent and only Apple and BlackBerry have been any consistent over the years.
      danbi
      • Apple? Consistent?

        The only thing they have been consistent at is locking you in as slaves to their desire. If you want to be FREE, buy Samsung.
        Albert Shurgalla
        • It's true

          My ipad causes me to sit in the corner unable to move when I pick it up.

          When I use my Motorola I run around the house with my underpants on my head.


          Oh no wait... That was a different decade... Ah yeah that's it, I do the exact same things on both.
          MarknWill
      • Blackberry only has one leg

        Apple will always be around, way too many accessories and add on gadgets for the iPhone. Samsung it getting the android phone more streamlined. Like the iPhone, so Samsung just needs to knock out blackberry. Blackberry only has one phone that stands out. BB has been a dying name for the past few years. They are relying on one phone to help bring them back in the game. Its only a matter of time till BB falls if they keep going this route. The only ones that matter right now is IOS, Android, and Microsoft nipping at their feet every now and then.
        nbdeath
        • Well,

          except when they introduce an new expansion port, thereby making your existing accessories useless (*cough, cough* thunderbolt).
          Richard Estes
    • troll

      How can you expect your Apple criticism to be taken seriously with an avatar of Steve Jobs with devil horns on?

      That alone makes you sound like a bitter, insecure, Apple-hating fanboy.
      furious00
    • Agreed, Apple's software is bad

      That is why they have sold millions of iPhones, iPads and Macs and have annual sales that far exceed your favorite Microsoft.
      arminw
    • Apple CAN do it, if it really wants to....

      IF Apple has the good resources and technical ability, W H Y was the last model so lack-luster????
      http://www.gsmarena.com/apple_iphone_5-4910.php
      1136 x 640 screen?? what is problematic about doing 1280 x 720 that 50 other phones can do??

      still a tired old dual core???

      etc, etc...
      comnut2k
    • Amateur

      You know nothing.
      chrisanderson1973
  • Cool article and perspective

    This was a refreshing article. I like that it addresses the road ahead and what handset makers are trything to achieve. I'm a consumer. I only care that my phone is "like wicked awesome". :) But Samsung, BB and Apple are companies and have business customers too (or want them).

    From a hipster stand-point, I don't ever want to see my boss wielding a Galaxy device for work purposes though :)
    Gussy2000
  • Cool article and perspective

    This was a refreshing article. I like that it addresses the road ahead and what handset makers are trything to achieve. I'm a consumer. I only care that my phone is "like wicked awesome". :) But Samsung, BB and Apple are companies and have business customers too (or want them).

    From a hipster stand-point, I don't ever want to see my boss wielding a Galaxy device for work purposes though :)
    Gussy2000
  • More Work Needed

    While your article makes some good points, it is poorly organized and at least on one occasion contradicts itself. The writing seems more stream-of-consciousness than planned. You should create an outline before starting and include an additional edit before posting. E.g., the colon in the first sentence should be a comma.

    Bad writing makes an article difficult to read and understand and will discourage repeat readers.
    dxhunter@...
    • colon/comma revisitied

      I liked the entire tone of the article, didn't notice the grammar faux pas. But after going back to review the first sentence I say the first comma was superfluous and the colon should have been a period. The "leaks and rumours" thought stands alone as a complete sentence.

      I absolutely agree with the idea that outlines and editing make it easier to comprehend one's writing.

      kb
      bunkport
  • colon/comma

    Actually you're wrong, it should have been a semicolon. They were two related statements without a connecting word like and or but.
    her than being a minor member of the grammar police I thought the article was pretty good.
    DJL64