Originally Posted by sog35
Samsung is in REAL trouble in 2014 as far as premium smartphones. It really is a 3 prong attack that will cause them not to slow down growth but lose market share at the high end ($450+ phones).
1. High end. Apple is really pushing ahead with TouchID, 64 bit, and next year the larger screen. Samsung will only get the scraps from the $650+ market next year when the bigger screen comes out.
2. Mid-level. The one advantage the S3 had was the large screen. But now all the other Android/Windows phones have large screen models. So why would you go Samsung if the Nexus/HTC/Motorola/LG have the same size screen and basically the same OS?
3. Low-level. Its a fact that Chinese makers are gaining steam. Especially Xiaomi which produces a phone that has better build quality and style than the S4 with simular specs but cost half the price. Xiaomi is selling phones at a loss and plans to make money on the services/software it sells. Then we have Amazon who will simularly release a cheap phone that undercuts Samsung. Bottom line is Samsung cannot compete with these companies that are willing to lose money on every single phone they sell.
The only way Samsung can stem the tide on the high end is to bring out a game changing technology like they did with the bigger screen of the Galaxy S2. Without that they will get crushed from all sides: high, mid, and low.
I believe you may be right that Samsung will have a tougher time next year, as it's going to be harder to differentiate itself from Apple if Apple actually produces a phone with a 5" screen. If Apple produces a 4.5 to 4.7" screen, the difference between a 5"+ will still be enough to encourage people to buy Samsung, especially the 'phablet crowd'. Why Apple hasn't released such a phone already is very hard to justify.
The MicroSD slot and replaceable battery is still a winning combination for Samsung and will continue to help it maintain share unless HTC, Sony, Google etc. decide to follow Samsung, which seems unlikely. This is clearly a non-starter for Apple!
I have tremendous respect for Xiaomi, but they are primarily a threat to Samsung only in China. I think the bigger threat to Samsung over the next few years from China will be Lenovo, who have stated that they will be going after international markets. They're obviously bigger than Xiaomi, and can also leverage their existing international presence from their PC division. Longer term, I agree with you that Xiaomi could become a force to be reckoned with.
EDIT: Just read the following from the WSJ, http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2013/11/06/samsung-overpowers-smartphone-rivals-in-china/ It seems Samsung is doing very well in China versus Coolpad, Huawei and ZTE phones! I've found that Chinese consumers often don't trust their own brands and are willing to pay a premium to get a 'western' brand. I can't help but wonder if that's what this article is alluding to.
Edited by JamesMac - 11/7/13 at 9:55am