Friday, December 14, 2012

Key Samsung exec points out Apple's advantage: a 'sticky' ecosystem

Young Sohn, who started at Samsung in August as president and chief strategy officer, sat down with the MIT Technology Review to discuss Apple. Seriously, the discussion was about Samsung, but as Apple is the Korean giant's biggest rival, and one of its customers, the interview naturally turned in that direction as well.

One surprising admission by Sohn is that in his personal life, he uses iDevices and Macs. At work, he uses Samsung devices, but at home, he uses Apple products. He does so, he said, "mainly because all of my systems and files are done that way."

He then -- and more than once -- said that the ecosystem that Apple has is "sticky." What he means by that is what even Apple non-fans recognize: the ecosystem around iCloud, iTunes, etc. mean that it's difficult for someone else, whether it be Google or Microsoft, to make products that are not "experienced by itself."

Sohn said:
I think we [Samsung] have probably the largest platform in the world between the devices and displays and televisions we sell. We actually provide more devices that are interacting with consumers than anyone in the world.

Look at your phone [pointing to a Samsung Galaxy Nexus]. It’s a better phone, in my view. It’s a better display. It’s faster. But eventually the connected ecosystem is really critical.

But if you think about our experiences, it’s device-centric. It’s experienced by itself. It’s not experienced in a connected way. So we think we can provide a lot more things than what we are doing today with an open ecosystem with our partners.
The recognition of that fact -- that Samsung experiences are "not experienced in a connected way" -- is something that even Android fans like ourselves are not ignorant of. If you want a mobile phone that connects to the cloud and your music and everything -- you go with Apple. It's not to say you can't tie things together with Samsung devices, but it's not easy.

As Sohn added:
I did figure out how to sync all of my contacts and all of my schedules between the two different systems. You can do it. It’s a bit of work, but it is possible.
That is the key: you can do it, but it's not easy.

Young Sohn is one of the only president-level Samsung executives based outside of Korea. His job focuses around overseeing company innovation in both the U.S. and Korea.

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