Is Apple’s Marketing Power Waning, While Samsung Rises?

Is Apple’s Marketing Power Waning, While Samsung Rises? image Samsung vs Apple 300x200Samsung might be outstripping AppleFor years people have looked at Apple as the ideal example of marketing and brand strength. At one point last year their stock value was so high they were labeled the most valuable company in the world. Apple still has a lot of power to their brand, but is their focus on exclusivity and proprietary products starting to lose out to other competitors, primarily Samsung? Recent news shows Apple might need to change things up to gain back more market share in smartphones.

Samsung Ends 2012 Riding High

Samsung has had a banner year, even when Apple has released the greatest version of its iPhone to date, the iPhone 5. As Michal Lev-Ram writes for CNN Money this morning, “last year [Samsung] overtook longtime leader Nokia to become the No. 1 player in cellphones, with 29% market share worldwide.” Additionally, Samsung holds the number one spot globally for smartphones. In the US, the companies are neck-and-neck in market share and are set for a battle.

Apple already threw some of the first punches in the battle when it sued Samsung for patent infringement. Those cases might have done more harm than good for its brand at this point. People like fair play, not fancy definitions of a square with rounded corners. It seems me that Apple has relied on the Apple brand to make sales in its last few offerings– not the quality of its product. One sign of this is the Apple Maps fiasco that consumers definitely took notice of.

Now all of that is catching up to Apple. According to Angela Moscaritolo at ITProPortal, “Apple’s share of the worldwide smartphone market will peak this year at 22 per cent.” That share will remain at 22% through 2018. That’s not a positive statistic for Apple, whose stock price has declined almost 30 percent from a 52-week-high of $705 to now $500 flat. I still remember a few months ago when everyone was talking so proudly and optimistically about Apple’s never-ending rise. Looks like things have stalled a bit.

Samsung Success Story

As I mentioned above, I believe part of the reason for Apple’s market share losses come out of complacency. When you create a great brand, it can be easy to simply let the brand work. But with Apple part of their brand is about wowing the consumer. In my interactions with the iPhone 5, I haven’t been impressed. A lot of consumers feel the same.

Samsung and their marketing team realized this and pounced without hesitation. As Lev-Ram writes, after the iPhone 5 announcement, Samsung “was already drafting a series of print, digital, and TV ads” attacking the phone and its fans in a way that did not push customers away, but helped to pique their curiosity about Samsung’s phones.

They focused on their product and what it had to offer. Samsung’s phones do have more openness and features than Apple’s offerings and Samsung pushed that hard. In a brilliant maneuver, these ad campaigns called Apple’s bluff – Samsung successfully turned Apple’s brand against itself. They called out Apple and said, “Come on, you’re supposed to be Apple. Make a product that completely astounds customers, not one that we have a better, more versatile version of.” Bravo Samsung, Bravo.

Great Execution

What Samsung did can be a risky marketing move, but they managed to execute it flawlessly. It has worked fantastically for Samsung, as the latest numbers show. I would have never thought three or six months ago that Samsung would be top dog on smartphones and cell phones.

With its savvy marketing and strong products, Samsung has positioned itself very well for the future. Smartphones are predicted to finally reach half of all handsets sold this year and increase each year after that. Apple is going to need to pick their game up both in marketing and product offerings for whatever they have on the table for consumers next. It’s going to be an interesting year for both of Apple and Samsung, that’s for sure.

What do you think of Samsung’s marketing successes through the end of 2012 into this year?

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