Samsung, Motorola Are Apple's Biggest Mobile Threats: 10 Reasons Why

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-01-24 Print this article Print

News Analysis: Some might say that Google is Apple's biggest threat, but when it comes to revenue in the mobile market, Motorola and Samsung stand above the rest.

Apple is undoubtedly a mobile powerhouse. The company's iPhone is selling like gangbusters and its iPad continues to dominate that market. By the looks of things, it doesn't seem that there is a single company in the mobile marketplace that has any chance of threatening Apple's position.
Of course, some might disagree with that. Those dissenters would say that Google is the biggest threat to Apple in the mobile market, as evidenced by its Android platform's success over the past year. It's a compelling argument, but it might not be something Apple worries as much about-yet. True, Android is growing, but the impact that growth has had, at least so far, on Apple's revenue and profits, has been minimal.

Outside of Google, Samsung and Motorola might be the top threats to Apple's mobile success. Together, the companies offer some of the most compelling non-Apple devices on the market. And they have the kind of name-recognition that makes them real threats to Apple's iPhone and iPad.

Will Samsung and Motorola ruin Apple in the mobile market? Of course not, but out of any other companies, the smartphone and tablet makers are Apple's biggest threat.

Here's why:

1. Galaxy S smartphones are catching on.

Samsung has sold more than 10 million Galaxy S smartphones since their launch last year. Yes, that figure pales in comparison to the tens of millions of iPhones Apple has sold in the same span. But it's an impressive figure nonetheless. It proves that Samsung knows how to market its products and appeal to customers even though Apple is still competing in those markets. It also proves that not everyone is so willing to jump on the iPhone bandwagon.

2. The Galaxy Tab is the iPad's best competitor.

Like Samsung's Galaxy S smartphone, the company's Galaxy Tab is one of the more popular tablets in the mobile space. In fact, Samsung announced recently that it has sold more than 1 million tablet units since that device's launch. Once again, that won't match the iPad. But the tablet market is still in its infancy. If Samsung can offer an even more compelling tablet this year, it could take a deeper bite out of the iPad's market share.

3. Motorola is a major Verizon threat.

As Apple prepares to offer its iPhone to Verizon customers, it would be imprudent of the company to forget about Motorola. For years now, Motorola has been the best alternative to Apple and its iPhone for Verizon customers. The company's Droid devices have performed extremely well. Given the quality of those products, especially the Droid X, one shouldn't be so quick to say that the iPhone will steamroll Motorola's alternatives when it launches on Verizon's network next month.

4. The Xoom tablet should scare Apple.

Motorola unveiled one of the most appealing iPad alternatives ever announced at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year. Dubbed the Xoom, the tablet boasts a 10.1-inch display (Apple's iPad has a 9.7-inch screen), Android 3.0, two cameras, video-recording functionality and much more. It earned top honors at CES for its impressive spec sheet and functionality. Once it hits store shelves later this year, it could prove to be the biggest threat yet to Apple's dominant tablet market share.

5. Google isn't such a threat yet.

Many folks point to Google as Apple's biggest threat in the mobile market. They say that the company's Android platform could significantly affect Apple's positioning in the mobile space. But that's debatable. In fact, Google might not be as big a threat to Apple as some believe. Google is a software provider, while Apple is a hardware company offering its own software on its products. That's an important distinction. Over time, Google and Apple will likely have an all-out brawl in advertising as Google's AdMob and Apple's iAd continue to grow. But at least for now, Motorola and Samsung seem like bigger threats to Apple's business model than Google.

6. Apple is more about hardware.

The reason Motorola and Samsung are bigger threats than Google is to Apple right now is simple: Apple is a hardware company first. A quick glimpse at its financial results each quarter shows how much hardware drives its growth, not software. Considering that Motorola and Samsung are also hardware providers, it would only make sense for those two companies, at least in the short-term, to be Apple's biggest threat.

7. Motorola has impressive leadership.

Apple has Steve Jobs, which usually puts it well ahead of the competition. Jobs is arguably the most forward-thinking CEO in the technology industry right now. But Motorola Mobility has an impressive CEO of its own-Sanjay Jha. He might not be Steve Jobs, but he has led Motorola back toward the top of the mobile market with impressive products each year. Jha has proven that Steve Jobs isn't the only CEO who understands the mobile market.

8. Name recognition is there.

One of the key aspects of Apple's success is its name-recognition. People all over the globe know the Apple brand and believe that it's synonymous with a level of quality and craftsmanship that isn't matched in the markets in which it competes. However, Motorola and especially Samsung have similarly respected brands that people around the world turn to daily. That helps keep them relevant against Apple and could prove to be a thorn in Apple's side.

9. Android is a consideration.

Although Google isn't a huge threat to Apple at the moment, the company's mobile platform is catching on among consumers and enterprise customers around the world. Motorola and Samsung have both decided to capitalize on Android's growth and adopt that operating system in their own products. Going forward, that will likely pay off. According to Gartner, by 2014, Android will be close to becoming the world's most-popular mobile operating system, finally coming close to besting Nokia's Symbian platform.

10. Trust plays a role.

While Samsung and Motorola enjoy name-recognition, that only helps them sell more products. But their success goes beyond that. Both Samsung and Motorola have earned the trust of customers who believe that the companies deliver a fine service and product for their own unique needs. There are some companies in the tech space that don't have such a great reputation. Samsung and Motorola generally do have good reputations. And that alone should help them compete with Apple-the company that arguably has the best reputation in the world. 


Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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