Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.


So many hidden features. But a real challenge to Apple?
Sarah Tew/CNET

Last year, Samsung was kind to Apple.

Its Note 7 exploded onto the market and then promptly blew the company’s brand image into shards.

Why, even President Barack Obama mocked it.

With the release of the Galaxy Note 8, Samsung attempts to put the pieces back together and reassure those willing to spend a lot of money on a phone that they can safely do so with Samsung.

But the problem with reassurance is that it is, by its very nature, non-threatening.

It was unlikely that Samsung would release something startling when it needed to give its customers a warming stroke, rather than a burning feeling.

Still, will any tremors have coarsed through the odd Apple vein?

Cupertino will have likely looked at the Note 8 and noted that its price allows any potential “iPhone 8” pricing – I’ll bet you $999 that the so-called iPhone 8 will start at $999 – to reach four figures without seeming gougeish.

The Note 8 itself looks lovely and is (overly) packed with features.

But when I consider whether a new Samsung phone might worry Apple, I first turn to those most reliable of oracles — the analysts.

These infallible (in their own heads) beings are in a quandary.  As Barron’s reports, Mark Moskowitz of Barclays believes the Note 8 will make it harder for Apple at the top end. Especially as he insists that many consumers will turn away from high pricing and gravitate toward what he calls the “midrange” segment.

But the fair-weather Mayweather to his maudlin McGregor is Drexel Hamilton’s Brian White. His view is that the Note 8 is lovely and all that, but that “we believe consumers are eagerly awaiting the 5.8-inch iPhone 8 this fall, and we believe Apple’s stock has healthy upside potential.”

It’s nice to hear a moneyman talking in psychological terms. I fear, you see, that many people have already committed themselves to ecosystems — or, rather, they’ve been dragged into them beyond the point of return — and it now takes a lot for them to move from one to the other. However easy some may claim it is to switch.

Indeed, a piece of research that came out on Friday — from marketing platform Fluent — offers a sobering picture of the challenge facing Samsung and other phone brands. Seventy percent of iPhone buyers said they wouldn’t even consider another brand for their next phone.

Oh, the vast majority carped on about $1,000 being too expensive for a phone. But more than 40 percent still said they’d buy it.

After all, many people these days don’t think of the gross cost of a phone. They first see what deal they’re getting and then work out what the monthly cost will be. The numbers look so much more palatable that way.

For Samsung, one enormous challenge, then, is to capture consumers early and wrap them into an ecosystem from which they become increasingly reluctant to leave. But that’s more difficult when you don’t have your own operating system. The Note 8, for example, offers two different assistants — Google’s and Samsung’s own Bixby.

People still do want things to be as simple as possible.

Ultimately, then, I suspect Apple will continue to benefit from the ease of its ecosystem and hope that the visual impact of its new phone (or even phones) will create sufficient oohs and aahs to satisfy the pent-up cravings of its remarkably — and, some might say, unreasonably — loyal customers.

What might put them off? Well, if the phones started to explode….

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