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Samsung's chipmaking business posts weak outlook as rumors of Apple shift persist

post #1 of 59
Thread Starter 
To date, Samsung has been the sole supplier of custom A-series processors for Apple's popular iPhone and iPad, but industry watchers again expect that to change after the South Korean company signaled that its microprocessor business has a bleak outlook.

Apple's A7 SoC is manufactured by Samsung and powers the iPhone 5s, Retina iPad mini and iPad Air.
Source: iFixit


In its quarterly earnings report last week, Samsung disclosed that demand from its "main customers" for custom chips has "continued to decline." Investors who spoke with The Wall Street Journal took that as a potential sign that Apple could begin shipping devices with chips built by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. as soon as this fall.

Sources reportedly indicated that TSMC began shipping A-series chips to Apple earlier this year, though the report didn't indicate whether that silicon is actually in the hands of customers. Every Apple "iDevice" teardown to date has revealed only chips built by Samsung.

Samsung's comments about "weak demand" going forward come as Apple is selling more iPhones than ever. Industry watchers expect sales to continue to grow this fall with the debut of an anticipated "iPhone 6," which is rumored to come in two new, larger screen sizes.

For the June quarter, Samsung saw its semiconductor business profits grow by 6 percent, though its overall earnings were a disappointment to investors. The company's lower-than-expected earnings represented its smallest profit in two years, and Samsung blamed increasing competition in the smartphone space for its results.

In addition to being fierce competitors in the smartphone, tablet and other markets, Apple and Samsung are also close partners who have collaborated on numerous custom chip designs. Their most recent creation is the 64-bit A7 processor that powers the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and iPad mini with Retina display.

Given Apple's continued reliance for parts on the threat that is Samsung, industry watchers have expected for some time that Apple will transition its chipmaking partnerships away. Specifically, TSMC has been pegged as a potential replacement for Samsung, though to date its believed that Apple and TSMC have only worked on shipping Touch ID fingerprint sensors to users.
post #2 of 59
Add to that their pending collapse in their primary expansion market of China and Samsung's days of "Samsung will kill Apple" are long gone.
post #3 of 59
It would seem to me the profitable chip making division should have been more important to Scammy than the unprofitable 'copy everything Apple does' division.
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post #4 of 59
I'm confused. I thought I've been reading reports that pall did turning away from TSMC in favor of Samsung for the A8. This doesn't fit.
post #5 of 59

"In its quarterly earnings report last week, Samsung disclosed that demand from its "main customers" for custom chips has "continued to decline."

 

So it continues. More proof of the 5.5 coming.  The evidence at this point is like a mountain on a mole hill. 

post #6 of 59
Totally agree w/ above comment.

Essentially - Samsung arrogance (typical in that country) is the key to their demise.

Samsung believed that they "could not be replaced" %u2026 that "they were in the power seat" %u2026 not Apple .. because "Samsung could copy - and then would undercut/underprice" Apple for EVERYTHING.

Samsung was seriously in error.

I proceed (and all smart professionals/business people) as we all can be replaced. Apple created an ecosystem. This ecosystem cannot be replaced by 1 gimic, period. Apple hires the very best Engineers (I know - they only take #1 candidates with experience on top of that - not just out of a great school).

Sammy is being replaced - the key element is that they "cannot be trusted" .. nothing they can do to unwind this - they are viewed as dishonest, took years to set up their "firing" and they are now being fired %u2026%u2026%u2026%u2026they are toast %u2026 worse for them, their product stinks and even at the low end is being replaced by similar junk - good riddance, that is what they deserve
post #7 of 59

Xiaomi just replaced Samsung as the best selling brand in China.

 

Samsung's collapse will be quick and complete.

post #8 of 59
SAMSUNG made a gamble to put at risk it's biggest customer, Apple, to pursue smartphone competition with Apple and even after Google warned them to not copy so slavishly chose to do so.

They were unable to repeat their success with Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic and are now being treated to the same strategy by Chinese manufacturers.

Their refusal to negotiate non-copy or clone with Apple, as in contrast with HTC, has resulted in a declining business relationship and earning from Apple and likelihood this will continue as Apple insulates itself against a competitor.

The manufacturing prowess of SAMSUNG has apparently created an arrogance that the market is about to change. Their choice to put at risk their biggest customer, Apple, has become a reality. If Apple's investments in other display, chip, and materials (sapphire and liquid metal) companies pay off, then SAMSUNG will be on the outside looking in as the Chinese gobble up the low end of the market.

Whether the Chinese will be a major threat to Apple is an open issue, but if Apple was able to survive the "Android" assaults over the last 7 years, then It can probably survive this assault, not so clear for SAMSUNG.
post #9 of 59
Great posts... The Samsung slow decline like japanese companies is in full swing. Just maybe they can buy enough talent to stem the tide of low cost chinese products.
post #10 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carson O'Genic View Post

I'm confused. I thought I've been reading reports that pall did turning away from TSMC in favor of Samsung for the A8. This doesn't fit.

 

I've read the reports both ways.   But the direction is clear... Apple is not sole sourcing 'custom' chips, and is hoping that TSMC can step in and handle the bulk of the work.   Whether this is punitive, or just good business (two suppliers... pricing race to the bottom, and lowered risk in source issues), Samsung will feel the effect.  Most of the reports I read is who is 'lead' in development, not who is 'sole source' in development.

 

There's a difference between being 'first source' and 'sole source.'   The profits of a custom chip are striking that 2 year exclusive deal.  You take all the risk up front, and get it back in every chip you make, as the price is locked, and the run is pre-defined.   If Apple 'partners' with you to figure out the 'fab' of the chip, and as part of that partnership, owns the rights to distribute that fab plan to whomever, then you have to charge a lot up front, but you lose the long term amortization, and the other partner gets the fruits of your Development labors.  

post #11 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carson O'Genic View Post

I'm confused. I thought I've been reading reports that pall did turning away from TSMC in favor of Samsung for the A8. This doesn't fit.

it was all lies, it was an attempt by whomever to keep Samsung stock pumped up, since Apple will not confirm any rumors or facts it allow those people to malipulate stocks like Samsung. I said it before it was all smoke and mirror to make everyone think that Samsung still have future business with Apple. At some point as it just happen Samsung could not hide real facts. You can tell all the stories you like but when the Dollars do not add up no story can cover that up. Unless you were Enron and we know what happen to them.

post #12 of 59
Hit these fuckers on all fronts.
post #13 of 59
I can feel a shift in which Samsung will become just another generic Android tablet/phone maker. Apple will continue to lead for the foreseeable future.
post #14 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


Samsung's comments about "weak demand" going forward come as Apple is selling more iPhones than ever. Industry watchers expect sales to continue to grow this fall with the debut of an anticipated "iPhone 6," which is rumored to come in two new, larger screen sizes.

 

This paragraph sums it up quite nicely. Nevertheless, pundits continue to predict doom for Apple.

post #15 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carson O'Genic View Post

I'm confused. I thought I've been reading reports that pall did turning away from TSMC in favor of Samsung for the A8. This doesn't fit.

 

Or you mean the A9, which has been rumoured to go back to Samsung's 14nm.


Edited by ksec - 8/5/14 at 1:21pm
post #16 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carson O'Genic View Post

I'm confused. I thought I've been reading reports that pall did turning away from TSMC in favor of Samsung for the A8. This doesn't fit.

That's because all of those reports are rumors. They can't all be right which is why they conflict with each other.

 

When will you know who is right? When Samsung and TSMC report earnings for the time period in question. Every other "report" is essentially worthless.

 

You can safely ignore pretty much any tech "report" unless the original information source is from the company's quarterly report, government security filings, a press release, or perhaps a teardown of the actual shipping product.

 

It also means you can safely think that 95% of what AppleInsider (or any other tech rumor blog) posts is poppycock. The most pragmatic way to deal with tech rumor sites is to treat them like parodies of old-school media (like the NY Times).

 

Celebrity gossip sites like TMZ and Perez Hilton are way more accurate than tech rumors sites like AI, MacRumors, 9to5Mac, BGR, etc.


Edited by mpantone - 8/5/14 at 7:27am
post #17 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
 

it was all lies, it was an attempt by whomever to keep Samsung stock pumped up, since Apple will not confirm any rumors or facts it allow those people to malipulate stocks like Samsung. I said it before it was all smoke and mirror to make everyone think that Samsung still have future business with Apple. At some point as it just happen Samsung could not hide real facts. You can tell all the stories you like but when the Dollars do not add up no story can cover that up. Unless you were Enron and we know what happen to them.

I think the opposite it true.  The 'demise' of Samsung's chip deals with Apple have been sung for 3 years, and each iPhone release, you see another Samsung foundry stamp on the A chip.   The crux of the issue is Samsung is getting out Samsunged in China.

 

Apple is in business to make money, and while the ASeries chip is full of great IP, it's not anything that is revolutionary as far as chip logic goes.  So partnering with Samsung, and now, with others (lowers business risk).   If it was so critical, it would take it all in house (you don't see iOS development outsourced;-)   And Samsung has likely had to lock down it's NDA in the wake of everything, if not for Apple for every other customer seeking custom chip development.    (But Samsung just flat out stopping payment of royalties to Microsoft makes it apparent, they really, truly don't buy into any 'agreements' that cost them money.... so who knows?). 

 

The secret sauce is the 'plan' on how to exploit the power of the chipset to attract consumer 'need.'  That's where Samsung is lost, not because they couldn't figure it out, but their company is a conglomerate, and no division is aligned with the others to any great extent.  So they try to attract consumer 'want' (or dis-want... 'their screens are too small... their lines are too long')

 

Apple is a singular company, where it's divisions don't have individual products, all divisions feed into one product set (mac and iDevice notwithstanding).  and really don't care what other companies do... they care what consumers do and need to do with their mobile devices. 

post #18 of 59
Originally Posted by TheOtherGeoff View Post

Apple is in business to make money, and while the ASeries chip is full of great IP, it's not anything that is revolutionary as far as chip logic goes.

 

Then why do Apple devices perform better than every single other device on the market, regardless of clock speed and RAM?

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post #19 of 59
I nominate this thread for First Prize in the category of "Most Spelling and Grammar Errors in the History of the English Language." Outstanding work!

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GOA

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GOA

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post #20 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carson O'Genic View Post

I'm confused. I thought I've been reading reports that pall did turning away from TSMC in favor of Samsung for the A8. This doesn't fit.

I know several people have already responded to your post. I wanted to add the following links for your review.

The first link is to an AI article published on March 5, 2014... Rumor: TSMC now building quad-core 'A8' chips for Apple's next-gen iPhone
http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/162580/rumor-tsmc-now-building-quad-core-a8-chips-for-apples-next-gen-iphone

The second link is to an AI article published 5 days later on March 10, 2014... Apple to stick with Samsung for A8 chip, final manufacturing prep underway - report
http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/163257/apple-to-stick-with-samsung-for-a8-chip-final-manufacturing-prep-underway-report

What I found interesting in the way AI titled the articles. The TSMC article is considered a rumor, while the Samsung article is not.

Check out the comments in both articles, but pay close attention to the comments in the second article. Those are very telling about people think and feel about the second article.
post #21 of 59


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post #22 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

Samsung's collapse will be quick and complete.


 

That's really premature, even if-when they lose a customer worth billions in annual sales. That's a lot, but it's only in their components division. Samsung will live a long mediocre life, probably much like Microsoft. Less discerning customers will continue buy their products because they think they are marginally less expensive, because they are fooled by a marketing gimmick, or because they just can't be bothered to do any real market research.
post #23 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I nominate this thread for First Prize in the category of "Most Spelling and Grammar Errors in the History of the English Language." Outstanding work!

 

I except.
post #24 of 59
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Originally Posted by BigBillyGoatGruff View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I nominate this thread for First Prize in the category of "Most Spelling and Grammar Errors in the History of the English Language." Outstanding work!

 

I except.

Yer poststs r axcepshunnal.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #25 of 59
I hate Sammy as much as the next Apple fan, but predictions of its death strike me as premature. They are a huge conglomerate of which the smartphone business is only part. Their other branches can underwrite the phone biz, and/or they can continue as just another minority player. They will live on.

What I wonder is what will be the next wave in AI computing. When will something completely different replace solid-state/silicon chips? In some lab somewhere is the beginnings of a paradigm shift. Something organic perhaps? A wetware brain capable of growing and structurally adapting to experience. Something that will make silicon look dumb by comparison? I hope Apple is heavily invested in basic research, not just product research.
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post #26 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post
 

 

This paragraph sums it up quite nicely. Nevertheless, pundits continue to predict doom for Apple.

Because pundits only see wins and losses... they don't see goals and achievements.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by leavingthebigG View Post


I know several people have already responded to your post. I wanted to add the following links for your review.

The first link is to an AI article published on March 5, 2014... Rumor: TSMC now building quad-core 'A8' chips for Apple's next-gen iPhone
http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/162580/rumor-tsmc-now-building-quad-core-a8-chips-for-apples-next-gen-iphone

The second link is to an AI article published 5 days later on March 10, 2014... Apple to stick with Samsung for A8 chip, final manufacturing prep underway - report
http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/163257/apple-to-stick-with-samsung-for-a8-chip-final-manufacturing-prep-underway-report

What I found interesting in the way AI titled the articles. The TSMC article is considered a rumor, while the Samsung article is not.

Check out the comments in both articles, but pay close attention to the comments in the second article. Those are very telling about people think and feel about the second article.

either way, when you're at the point when you need 100+million chips a year, considering a newcomer as a 'sole source' is grand fantasy.  Samsung can print out 100Million custom chips in it's sleep.

 

oh, and you forgot about this musing

 

http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/06/24/rumor-tsmc-inks-deal-to-build-20nm-a8-chips-for-apple-starting-this-year

 

which even implicates an Apple Intel Aseries partnership.

 

In the end,  It's easier to rationalize as fact (not rumor) that Samsung may keep business (incumbent), than TMSC is gaining business (challenger).

either way, in reading all the articles, it's clear that no place has Apple committed to Samsung as sole source.  That coupled with a down grade of tablet sales, the 'loss' in china, the 'facts' coming out today from Samsung seem obvious... they will be making less custom chips for major players in the coming year... there is more competition, and there for one client, apparently either less demand, or a competitive source.

post #27 of 59
Hey Sammy....welcome to the American middle finger. Enjoy it!
post #28 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post

Hit these fuckers on all fronts.

Well said!
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post #29 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 
Originally Posted by TheOtherGeoff View Post

Apple is in business to make money, and while the ASeries chip is full of great IP, it's not anything that is revolutionary as far as chip logic goes.

 

Then why do Apple devices perform better than every single other device on the market, regardless of clock speed and RAM?

Ecosystem?  Vertical integration?  Compatibility of hw/sw design?  The same thing said a fourth way?

post #30 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigBillyGoatGruff View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I nominate this thread for First Prize in the category of "Most Spelling and Grammar Errors in the History of the English Language." Outstanding work!

 

I except.

I fecund the nomination.
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"The perfect [birth]day -- A little playtime, a good poop, and a long nap." - Tomato Greeting Cards -
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"Swift generally gets you to the right way much quicker." - auxio -

"The perfect [birth]day -- A little playtime, a good poop, and a long nap." - Tomato Greeting Cards -
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post #31 of 59
Perhaps the decline in their business is not apple but Samsung's mobile division which is struggling at the high end.
post #32 of 59

it will not be a quick death- just does not seem possible.  they make chips and boards for cars, computers and so on. they make heavy machinery, cars, buildings, household appliances and whatnot.

however, i have recently made a friend from samsung here in Seoul, and whereas he loves the company he thinks that the mobile department is lacking in direction. (i know- 'your friend'. but honest)

they are getting the pinch (and oddly enough, legal help) from google to not change the os so much. they have tizen, they have really hard working people. but if you have no direction, or willing to fully back a horse, you are betting on air.

post #33 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by boredumb View Post

Ecosystem?  Vertical integration?  Compatibility of hw/sw design?  The same thing said a fourth way?

Apple pretty much doesn't go out of their way to make asinine changes to the product line. Ask anyone who has developed for Android what % of devices their software actually works on. Games made with Unity tend only to work on Android devices with PowerVR GPU cores, which are the same cores used on the iPhone. What does the Samsung device have?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snapdragon_(system_on_chip)#Snapdragon_801 Adreno , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exynos_(system_on_chip) PowerVR, or Mali

So there is a 33% chance of even the Samsung device actually working at decent performance, otherwise the CPU's on the device have to decompress textures in software, slowing the performance down. As an example, this product http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1087427 , is advertised to enable using all software for the GPU types on the same device.

Now compare to Apple, which has stuck with the same CPU-compatible and GPU instruction sets from day one. Who else does this? Nintendo (as of GameCube and GameBoy Advance.) This makes it far more attractive for developers as the same techniques can be applied to existing, and future products without having to too much. Compared with Android, you're lucky if even the next version of the OS will run your software.

I always want to try an Android device, but then "Android on Windows" software like Bluestacks (Emulates a ARM-based Google Nexus) and Genymotion (no ARM emulation) convinces me again that Android is a fractured and horrible platform, and unless you look for a specific model to run the software you want, most of these "cheap" Android devices are rubbish.
post #34 of 59
Originally Posted by boredumb View Post
The same thing said a fourth way?

 

I reject the other three, but this is incontrovertible. :p

Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
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Originally Posted by Marvin

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post #35 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by sog35 View Post
 

Xiaomi just replaced Samsung as the best selling brand in China.

 

Samsung's collapse will be quick and complete.

Very true and not just Xiaomi. Lenovo and OnePlus are growing and will expand beyond China.

 

Good article on Samsung's problems here.

 

A Bag of Hurt Heading for Samsung

post #36 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

I hate Sammy as much as the next Apple fan, but predictions of its death strike me as premature. They are a huge conglomerate of which the smartphone business is only part. Their other branches can underwrite the phone biz, and/or they can continue as just another minority player. They will live on.

you don't understand conglomerates.  Profits go up, never over. 

 

Smartphone is the largest part of it's largest subsidiary, and it's a free standing corporation (listed on the South Korea Stock Exchange)

 

Each subsidiary and each division is a P&L center.   Where the board may 'nurture' a division for a while, it won't siphon profits from one to keep another afloat.  And we are talking about Samsung's 2 most profitable units of Samsungs most profitable subsidiary (Samsung Electronics, which homes phones and semiconductors, generates 70% of Samsung Groups revenues ( source ).)  Division leaders who get bonuses from the group aren't wanting to subsidize a laggard, and will be pushing for profitability.


Edited by TheOtherGeoff - 8/5/14 at 8:50am
post #37 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by ksec View Post
 

 

Or you mean the A8, which has been rumoured to go back to Samsung's 14nm.

According to the July 31 transcript, the 14nm process is not expected to ramp to full production until then end of 2015 for external customers. To my mind, Samsung has lost its way. Samsung talks of balancing production of their components based on market conditions and having the flexibility to change what the lines are producing. Samsung does not know where the 14nm production lines will be -- in Korea or Austin? Samsung is reacting to market conditions and competition in the low-mid tier mobile segment, being forced to compete with Chinese companies at the same time trying to compete with Apple in the upper tier. Samsung is not driving the market, but reacting to it. 

 

What impressed me on reading the transcript is Samsung's top decision makers are quite confused. They really are split between being a foundry and creating finished products for consumers. This split may be necessary given NDAs between the divisions. Wasn't the product side of Samsung surprised by the nature of A7 chip even though Samsung's foundry side was manufacturing it? 

 

Seems at some level (probably the top), Samsung is being poorly managed. Samsung is an extraordinarily excellent engineering firm -- that's why Apple uses them. Samsung needs to cut the engineering side loose. 

post #38 of 59

If TSMC can delivery great chips at great volume and price, then this is the best news ever! Screw Scamsung...

 

I truly think this type of move is what Steve meant by "thermonuclear war"...not endless litigation.

 

Make it hurt where it counts-cut Scroogle out of desktop and mobile search and reduce orders from disloyal supply chain partners.

 

Stupid move, Scammy. And way to go, Tim!

For your sake, I hope you're right.
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post #39 of 59
No one seems to consider that maybe Apple NEEDs to spread production across two plants / suppliers to meet demand. Think about it folks people it has been rumored that the Samsung plant has been maxed out several times, even after expansion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by leavingthebigG View Post

I know several people have already responded to your post. I wanted to add the following links for your review.

The first link is to an AI article published on March 5, 2014... Rumor: TSMC now building quad-core 'A8' chips for Apple's next-gen iPhone
http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/162580/rumor-tsmc-now-building-quad-core-a8-chips-for-apples-next-gen-iphone

The second link is to an AI article published 5 days later on March 10, 2014... Apple to stick with Samsung for A8 chip, final manufacturing prep underway - report
http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/163257/apple-to-stick-with-samsung-for-a8-chip-final-manufacturing-prep-underway-report

What I found interesting in the way AI titled the articles. The TSMC article is considered a rumor, while the Samsung article is not.

Check out the comments in both articles, but pay close attention to the comments in the second article. Those are very telling about people think and feel about the second article.

For the most part AI publishes nothing more than rumors, we can only guess what will actually happen here.
post #40 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

 

Then why do Apple devices perform better than every single other device on the market, regardless of clock speed and RAM?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by boredumb View Post
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

Then why do Apple devices perform better than every single other device on the market, regardless of clock speed and RAM?

Ecosystem?  Vertical integration?  Compatibility of hw/sw design?  The same thing said a fourth way?

less compatibility but 'integrated hw/OS/SW/UI/FunctionalGoal' design.

 

TS:  an 8000 RPM engine, a great transmission, but no traction, all you do is spin your wheels.  Clock speed means nothing if your bottle neck is data paths (e.g. Apple moving to 64bit... faster data movement of 64bit pointers... not to address more than 2GB), It's the old RISC vs CISC issue.  a fast moving MIPS processor had to have a GREAT compiler lest the pipeline emptied out and you were just processing NOPS.

(another reason why Swift/ObjC/LLVM is a big deal... Apple is worrying about 'how things compile'... Do you think Samsung is doing compiler development?)

 

The goal of Android isn't to be a great user experience... the goal of Android is to be an alternative to apple experience

The goal of Samsung isn't to build a comprehensive online consumer experience centered on iOS and iCloud.

It's to sell more stuff than last year, by making it 'buyable', cheaper, more attractive than the other guys products and last years products.

(Attractive: Spec Wars. Screens, colors).

 

That's the difference in Apple's Business and everyone else's.    Apple defines a usage environment (function... e.g. monitoring heart rate to send to your MD) and then starts with designing the experience.  then the SW to do the experience, and then it looks to see what should be done in the OS, then in the HW, and then makes trade offs based on what each layer can/can't support economically.  and then delivers what it thinks is 'right,' not what 'can sell.'

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