The competition between Apple and Samsung has been particularly intense in the past few years.
Both companies are performing above the expectations of industry experts and financial analysts, which has intensified the competition still further.
There are certain flashpoints in the mobile year where this clash between technology giants is particularly evident. The companies both launch products around spring and in the autumn.
During the spring, Apple attempts to cause a stir before Samsung releases a flagship device at Mobile World Congress. The autumn launch sees this pattern in reverse, with Samsung looking to take the momentum away from Apple’s flagship reveal.
This year, at a critical period, both companies have been hit with a couple of damaging public relations episodes. Apple was landed with a very public unpaid tax bill by the EU to the tune of €13bn while Samsung had to issue a global recall of its new Note 7 devices after a number of them exploded.
For both companies the timing of these revelations couldn’t have been much worse. Apple’s approach to taxation has long been criticised, but the EU’s actions have brought the issue to the forefront of consumers’ minds before its biggest launch of the year.
Samsung may have been feeling that it was in the position to capitalise on public animosity in Europe towards its rival. It was also a geography eagerly anticipating the new Note 7, as the last few versions of the phablet had not been released in Europe. However, after a number of new phones began exploding in Korea, the manufacturer was forced to issue a global recall.
The responses from the two brands were particularly interesting. While Samsung quickly acknowledged the error and sought to remedy it, Apple sent its CEO on the offensive to defend its actions. Admittedly, these were very different problems for the businesses to deal with, but it will be interesting to see how the differing approaches play out in the long run.
In a few months all the controversy will be in the rear view mirror and the products will be plastered on billboards ahead of the Christmas push. But that doesn’t make the timings of these latest controversies any less painful for the brands to deal with.