Is Samsung about to sing its swan song?

Is Samsung about to sing its swan song?

Summary: So long and thanks for all the patent infringement. Samsung, it might be time to sing your Swan Song for mobile tech.

TOPICS: Apple, Mobility, Samsung
"Sam, you're the Apple of my i."
"I was afraid you'd say something like that."

The typical journalistic answer to any headline question is, "No," but if you've kept up with my posts for very long, you know that I typically thumb my nose at convention and this post is no different. So, the short answer is, "Yes, I'm afraid so." I'm not suggesting that Samsung's loss is a total deal breaker for the entire company but I am suggesting that their mobile device business is, as we say in the country, 'Kaputsky.' Samsung sells a variety of products from home appliances to cameras to televisions. The Doors' song, "The End," keeps echoing in my mind when I think of Samsung now.

The ultimate Swan Song.

Sorry, but I'm a closet hippie at heart--sans the long hair, the ultra-liberal political stance and the tye dye clothes. OK, so maybe I'm not really a closet hippie at all but I like the Doors and I like Samsung but the proverbial writing (from Daniel, not Proverbs) is on the wall for Samsung--at least the Samsung we know.

I think that Samsung has invested a lot of money and time into its mobile group but it's a loss. They can't pick up and do well now. It's time to cast off the flotsam and jetsam and sail for calmer seas. Samsung needs to focus its efforts on its other products.

First, it was Germany banning the sale of Samsung's mobile devices, then the entire European Union. Now, America. There's no market for blatantly copied products. OK, with the exception of knockoff purses, sunglasses and other non-technical items, there's no market.

Actually, maybe there is a market and no one wants to admit it. Perhaps things would have been different for Samsung, if they'd negotiated a deal to license Apple's design. But, Apple has never been known for licensing clones of any kind. There are a few failed companies in the tech boneyard who've tried unsuccessfully.

The problem with Apple products, for most consumers, is the price. They're expensive. Really expensive. When you can buy a "clone" tablet for $249 or less, compared to Apple's $499, it's almost a no brainer what's going to happen. But, no, I'm not a fan of patent infringement nor am I a fan of knockoffs of any kind. Still, I empathize with people who want a nice mobile phone or mobile computing platform but can't afford to pay two to four times Apple's price for one.

As a purchaser of an Apple iPhone 4, two iPhone 4Ss, two iPhone 3GSs and a first generation iPad, I feel your pain.

However, I can also tell you that I'm ecstatic about all of them. My wife loves her iPhone 4S. I can't live without my iPad. The kids love their iPhones. They're not cheap to purchase nor is anyone competing for our monthly service business. We pay a lot for our service--an extreme amount, actually. But, we have the very best App Store, the very best support, the very best Apps and there's a little something special about carrying an iPhone when your counterparts at restaurants or at the mall have cheap imitation ones.

Yes, there's a "snob" factor to it. But, I like Apple products. And, no, they unfortunately don't pay me to write that. They don't have to and they know it. Again, unfortunately.

Also, if you know anything about me, I've not always been a fan of Apple's stuff. I used to give my friend, Jason Perlow, a lot of grief about his Apple fanboydom. He, as usual, is right about Apple kicking everyone else's backside for mobile tech and possibly tech in general. Both of us have vowed to buy Apple ultrabooks for our next PCs. My Acer laptop seems to be hanging on for dear life to prevent that transition but it's going to happen soon (fingers crossed).

If I were Samsung's CEO or on its Board of Directors, I'd suggest dumping the mobile unit and focusing on consumer tech in televisions, home appliances and cameras and hope to God that no one sues us over those.

The bottom line here is that Samsung needs to cut its losses and move on with what it's best at: Consumer Electronics other than mobile.

The consumer electronics market is competitive and if you think that a company like Apple won't sue you for infringement, you're wrong. Apple is the best at what they do and they're not about to allow anyone else to step on that. Historically, they are the innovators, not the imitators. They've always gone after the imitators with a vengeance.

My final thought is this: If you're an electronics company and you want to innovate in the mobile area, don't copy Apple. They'll bust you. Innovate on your own. Build a better mousetrap. I think that's what Apple is saying too. "Don't copy our innovations, come up with your own (if you can)."

[UPDATE] Apple loses patent infringement lawsuit in Japan. --No comment.

Everyone wants to be Prada, Mercedes, Carver Yachts and Apple but you can't be. Be yourself. Be innovative. Don't copy someone else's designs and risk destruction. You can't beat Apple at its game. Redefine the game, find another game to play or sing your Swan Song.

What do you think Samsung should do at this point? Talk back and let us know.

Related Articles:

Samsung's Apple patent loss: The financial hit is manageable

30 years before Samsung: When Apple sued Microsoft

Secrecy bid in Apple vs Samsung lawsuit denied

Apple v. Samsung verdict: What it means

Topics: Apple, Mobility, Samsung


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • With them making great phones at great pricing..

    .. here in India at least, I would prefer them to stay. Devices like the Galaxy S2 and S3 are great and have awesome pricing (or even the Omnia W WP7 phone, which is the best WP7 phone for the price), compared to others like HTC who come up with weaker devices and also price them quite high (though HTC recently said they're doing away with premium pricing on their devices to boost their sales). Infringement or not, I'd prefer Samsung's devices over any others, unless they can match Samsung's pricing (and also get me Super AMOLED displays, but that's secondary :P)
    I will not reject the fact that Samsung went too far on copying, but to stop making phones completely is a silly decision. Stop making Android devices, sure, but there are other OS out there, like WP8 (with the awesome ATIV S to come).
    • Stop making Android devices???

      See, just an anectode: a dear friend of mine, for the last 2 years had an iPhone , courtesy of his boss, on which he managed his mail. He also used it and an iPad for work and netbrowsing.
      He always made sneering remarks as "iPhones are for real WORKING people, not for playing games like your Android headset", "the easiest to use", "best apps store" etc.
      Then now he had to change, at his pocket expense. He got a Galaxy S3 with a 30 months plan.
      After 2days of use: "WOW. Just asking to myself how Apple can get off selling backwater crap at that inflated prices."
      Then he got one forhis wife too.
      • Yeah, I wasn't suggesting to actually stop making them..

        .. was just saying that if they really have to, that's something they can do, but to suggest shutting down the entire phones business is going a bit too far. But again, yeah, no need to shut down anything.
        Haha, looks like your friend got past his initial assumptions. I had an iOS developer actually say to me "Apple products are for those with good taste. The reason they are the richest company in the world despite making only black and white products (except the iPod nano) is because they have "good taste"." Not sure if its good taste or products that cost you so much (of course, if people want to spend so much to get their products, then its their prerogative).
        • And here's the Twitter conversation

      • Ah, the old fictitious friend routine...

        ... That and the "I'm an Apple fanboy that hates Apple products" routine seem to be the fall-back when you have nothing rational to say in response. ;-)
        Harvey Lubin
  • But LOL...

    ...I don't really know what Ken is drinking lately, but sure it seems that's quite potent stuff...
    Nice trolling attempt, tough. You had me ALMOST caught...
    • Is this journalism?

      I thought trolling was left to the comments section. LOL
      • Right with you...

        I know my usual lambasting of the fanboys and trolls out there has lead some to think that I'm an anything-but-android fanboy, so here is a gift of an article to show my total lack of brand loyalty in tech...

        Seriously though this article must just have been writen to light up the comments... Everyone on here must know if you so much as reference apple on here you'll get 30+ comments... This nonesense... Well nuff said.

        Just to inject a little rationality into precedings:

        Putting all lawsuits, fanboying, haters and fud to one side, Samsung account for 50% of android sales because across the board the make some darn good kit. They offer products for virtually any use for almost any user and in my experience have excellent build quality - when I shop for a spare TV or radio, moniter, they are the name that comes to mind.

        My take is that from here they will continue to grow - yes there may be some comsumer stigma around anything that looks a little apple-y but most of thier stuff doesn't And it'll soon be forgotten.

        At the end of the day, I'll be looking to get a W8 tablet soon, and without even knowing all the choices that'll be around, I'm relatively certain that Samsung will be one of the finalists...
    • LMAO

      yeah being a closet hippie i think it might be shrooms ........
    • Maybe he feels he has to write like this or start singing his own swan song

      The change started in 2008, but come 2010-2011 the writing from many of the bloggers here took a drastic change, but not for the better.

      I'm wondering if the new bosses at CBS gave some of them an ultimatum?
      William Farrel
  • Leave the rolling to the comments section please...

    Just do journalism. OK? If I wasn't following zdnet on twitter I would never have read this article anyway.

    Kind think of it, I might just do that. Just follow real journalists and unfollow zdnet.
  • Article writer misses a few things

    1. Samsung is winning overseas in numerous courts or is having an 'equal judgment' where Apple and them are both convicted of patent infringement equally, with no payment because of that.

    2. The court case in America was so messed up, with unreasonable restrictions on evidence for Samsung by Judge Koh that I knew it was going to be appealed immediately.

    3. There were numerous instances of prior artwork that should have VOIDED Apple's patents. Hell, even when there WEREN'T, Apple managed to get patents on things that shouldn't have been patentable.
  • *Sigh*

    I thought I'd read in the end that this article was just a joke. I mean, it is a joke, but not deliberately so. Maybe the author thought he was making a point..

    Oh well, stupid people can and do write, though..
    • he wasn't paid for it

      or was he really?
  • Bloggers need a bit more business perspective

    Hi ken,

    thanks for taking your time out to write alengthy article that says nothing new, apart from some rehashed popular myths.

    You would need a bit more business perspective to justify your claims that Samsung needs to leave the mobile business.

    You need to understand there is a big world outside of the united states.
    You also need to peddle less the myths of Apple as an innovator, as anyone with a decent connection can also point to the contrary of Apple as immitators.

    Kindly reread your article and provide a set of solid arguments for Samsung leaving the mobile business and what mechanisms would bring down a company the sizee of Samsung down if they stay their current course(apart from the fact that you bought everything Apple out there).

  • What's the point?

    I've seen click bait articles before but this is a new level. Was that your point Ken, 'as long as people read it, I don't care how stupid I look'?

    Factually incorrect, anecdotally incorrect and on the whole, a laughable piece of 'journalism'.

    Galaxy phones outsell iphones in most if not all markets, does this mean apple is overdue for retirement from the same market?

    This is one of the worst articles on zdnet for a while now.

    My final thought: Maybe it's you Ken that should think about retiring. If not, try using facts rather than bizarre made-up conclusions.
    Little Old Man
    • Agree. Here's my Prediction....

      As soon as Ken realises he's made a complete numpty of himself online, this article will be quietly removed.
    • Hey.. at least he's not as bad as Jason Perlow...

      Perlow has the integrity and spinal fortitude of jello.
      The Werewolf!
  • My father used to say, if you have nothing smart to say then STFU

    Samsung and Android are kicking Apple right between the legs and I bet that without Steve Jobs Apple can not take if long ... long live Android
    • You should listen to your father

      Some of the posts on this topic struggle to reach the level of dumb. In case you had not noticed Apple has increased in value massively over the last year. Apples market share continues to grow and their margins are much higher than the OEM's.

      This is not about android its about ideas being ripped off. Samsung has gone from being a company which could not write a decent instruction manual for a TV 5 years ago to one which has "borrowed" a lot of ideas to become the most successful electronics manufacturer. Of course they now innovate but that's how the Japanese companies grew.

      As for price Ken is wrong on the idea you get to buy a tablet for $249 which is comparable. Wait till we get windows 8 tablets to see comparable. For $249 you get a badly implemented device which looks similar but does not work in the same way.